I read an interesting newspaper article recently about weed control in no-till practices that seems to illustrate the battle we’re facing with resistant weeds in the Great Plains.

Resistant pigweed has become a big problem in many parts of western Texas and presents a formidable challenge for the fledging no-till movement developing in that area of the state.

Quenna Terry, an NRCS public affairs specialist, told the Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock there’s been a 70% jump in reduced tillage practices statewide in Texas. The Texas Corn Producers Assn. also told the newspaper that there’s more interest in reduced-tillage practices in recent years to safeguard soil moisture and prevent erosion.

Muleshoe, Texas, no-tiller Kelly Kettner, whose farm was featured in our March 10 edition of Dryland No-Tiller, told the newspaper that he’s getting some good results from applying residual herbicides and using a crop rotation that includes corn, cotton, barley and rye.

Kettner still sees a pigweed occasionally despite residual applications, and in the absence of another post-emergent option he uses a hoe for control. He notes that his crop rotation allows him to use different herbicide options to control resistant weeds.

There are some other tips no-tillers can pursue to get a jump on resistant weeds:

  • As you’ll read in this issue, our lead article includes an in-depth discussion of how factors like hard water can hinder the effectiveness of glyphosate applications. You may think it’s not a problem on your farm, but are you sure?
  • The Alberta Canola Producers Assn. says tighter row spacing from a competitive crop can form a canopy that blocks out sunlight and makes it harder for glyphosate-resistant kochia offspring to survive.

It’s clear that no-tillers having problems with herbicide-resistant weeds aren’t going to win this battle without some changes to their management systems. Crop rotation, row spacing and residual herbicides sound like a great place to start.