Can harvest weed seed control help stop pigweed?

In Delta Farm Press

by David Bennett, Delta Farm Press

Will Mid-South producers soon adopt widely used Australian techniques aimed to keep resistant weed seed out of fields? Steve Powles, a leading resistant weed specialist in the world, predicts that is exactly what will happen.

In his home country of Australia, “The big thing is harvest weed seed control,” says Powles, who is currently visiting the United States. “That incorporates a whole range of techniques to harvest weed seed at the time of grain harvest. The ultimate goal is to stop weed seed from entering the soil seed bank.”

The Mid-South equivalent is hand-weeding in Palmer pigweed, says Powles. “We can’t afford to do that, so we’ve developed machinery and the weed seed harvest techniques instead.

“We simply have to do it — there’s no choice for many producers. That isn’t yet the case in the United States. But you will soon watch your farmers adopt (weed seed harvest). There are U.S. researchers — including (University of Arkansas’) Jason Norsworthy — now looking at it.”

While not wanting to “pick on” anyone, Powles tells a story from a Mid-South field day he spoke at many years ago. “We were talking about Palmer pigweed, and I asked what they thought about harvest weed seed control. They said, ‘It won’t work.’ ‘Why is that?’ I asked. ‘Because it shatters before grain harvest.’ I thought, ‘What a pity.’

“Well, now work has been done that shows that perception is wrong. What do you think the percentage of Palmer pigweed seed is — present, intact on the plants — at the first opportunity for soybean harvest? It’s 99 percent! The perception was incorrect and Palmer pigweed seed is available for harvest for weed control.”

Harvest weed seed control will work in the United States, insists Powles. “Your farmers will adopt it. They won’t want to do it, but they’ll soon see the benefits of it.”

Read the rest of the story in Delta Farm Press.

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