Field Scouting Declining, Consultants Wary Of Potential Problems

Some no-tillers are checking less often while relying on Roundup Ready and insect-resistant crops, but experts worry about the emergence of new problems.

Many no-tillers scout their fields less intensely than they did before Roundup Ready and insect resistant crops became popular. And although the decrease in scouting may vary from farm to farm, the consultants and growers contacted by No-Till Farmer caution that the trend could bring big problems.

“Farmers are getting a little more lax about looking for weed escapes because it’s been a trouble-free program in the past,” says Brad Mathson, a farm consultant serving west-central Wisconsin. “My biggest fear is developing resistant weed species because of it.”

Resistance Possibilities

“With many farmers reducing the herbicide rates to way below recommended levels, we’re starting to see escapes at these lower levels,” he says. “And if you have weed escapes year after year, there’s a higher probability of resistant species developing.

“It’s not a big deal now, but it’s starting to happen,” Mathson adds. “Every year we see a few more problem fields that weren’t caught until almost harvest time.”

Mathson, like many others, cannot be accused of crying wolf after losing field scouting jobs. His business actually increased with the surge of Roundup Ready products due to increased spraying. His most successful program now, he says, is a two-pass spraying of Roundup Ready corn: an early application of half-rate residual herbicide, followed by a half-rate application of Roundup as a late post-emergence.

Timing Is Everything

Rick Fritz, a consultant in Dunlap, Ill., sees Roundup Ready crops moving many growers to reduce their scouting. “But the better managers still have people…

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