Weed Escapes and the Problems They Present

One of the habits that I use to pass time while driving is to observe crops and their growing conditions.  Part of it is that I need something to do that is constructive, but I do it mostly because I grew up farming and thus my background has been in agriculture since the day I took my first breath.  Not only do I enjoying observing, but I also follow agriculturally related news stories.  One of the “big” stories this summer has been the concern with dicamba on dicamba resistant soybeans.  There have been row crops inured, trees affected, and even vegetable crops damaged, which has led to an awful lot of finger pointing.  So many have been impacted.  I am not here to play the blame game, but simply ask the question on “how did we get to this point?” 

As I said, I like to observe while I am out driving and we do quite a bit of driving over the summer since we enjoy camping as a family.  This past summer our crop conditions started out pretty “rocky” due to the large amounts of rain we received.  This caused a multitude of issues from replanting, late planting, and even issues with weed control because fields simply were not fit to drive across until the middle part of July.  There were a couple of soybean fields that I began to watch closely near the end of June because I noticed that the marestail was getting pretty mature.  For anyone who doesn’t know, marestail is a very difficult weed to control once it gets to just a few inches tall.  In addition, once it gets past a few inches tall it has the increased ability to escape herbicide treatments (especially glyphosate).  Once this happens it can produce 1000’s of seeds that may now have the ability to escape future herbicide applications.  These seeds can spread via equipment, birds, wind and so on.  So by having just one weed escape herbicide treatment, we increase the potential for having herbicide resistant weeds.  Below is a picture of the fields that I had been observing since the end of June. 

 

How many escapes are there?  How many potential seeds could be resistant to future applications?  I know that weather conditions were unfit when treatment was needed for the best control, but were there other options (including termination of the crop because yield is going to be minimal anyway) that could have prevented this scenario.  So I go back to my earlier question, “how did we get to the point of needing dicamba resistant crops and other potential future genetic modifications?”  Talk to any weed scientist, but these fields speak a 1000 words on where we may have potentially gone wrong.  We have been blessed with good tools for crop production and we need to be vigilant in our efforts to keep these tools viable for the future.  Don’t let one weed escape jeopardize how you produce in the future. 

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