"Resistant Weeds Leave Farmers Desperate"

"Farmers in the state's south are resorting to some old-fashioned tactics.

Weeds in cotton fields have gotten so tenacious — some with stems 4-inches around — that farmers are paying itinerant crews to chop them down by hand.

'In the Bootheel they're hiring people to go out there with hoes,' said Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. 'I swung a hoe for 15 years, and I fail to see the romance in it.'

The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is getting worse: Weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to Monsanto's Roundup, sold generically as glyphosate, forcing farmers to use other herbicides or 'multiple modes of action.' But during this season especially farmers are finding that these other modes of action aren't working either — and there appears to be little relief on the horizon. In Missouri, herbicide dealers have sold out of Cobra, one of the herbicides most widely used in tandem with glyphosate.

'Are they running out of options?' asked Aaron Hager, a weed scientist with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 'The simple answer is yes.'

Farmers across the Midwest and South are, increasingly, using herbicide cocktails to combat weeds in cotton, corn and soybean fields."

Georgina Gustin reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch July 17, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011