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Emerging solutions

Gil Gullickson Updated: 12/16/2010 @ 1:39pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Back when generic glyphosate was bumping around $25 per gallon a couple years ago, searching for alternatives was smart economics.

That’s what brothers Shawn and Jeff Adam of Batavia, Iowa, who farm with their father, Nick, did by going with a preemergence and postemergence herbicide combination on corn. This was before the glyphosate price crash of 2010, in which generic glyphosate is selling for as little as $7 per gallon.

So what do they do now?

Well, a postemergence glyphosate program would save them money right now.

Long term, though, this strategy could cost them money in lost yields and time.

“Cheap glyphosate has not really changed the way we do business,” says Shawn. “The way I look at it, it’s a time-management issue.” Going with a conventional herbicide strategy featuring both preemergence and postemergence herbicides helps them manage time and workload during a busy planting season, he notes.

“There’s a guarantee on weed control, and the company stands behind the product,” he adds.

Lack of residual with glyphosate can also lead to yield-clipping early weed growth.

“A guy can spray two or three passes of glyphosate and come in under the money on chemical costs. But if we see any weed pressure early on, yields can be decimated. For us, it’s all about making bushels, trying to squeeze every bushel we can out of every acre,” Shawn says.

Overreliance on glyphosate has led to an increasing number of resistant weeds. “There are also cases of weeds like morningglory, velvetleaf, and lambsquarters that aren’t resistant but are not controlled as easily by glyphosate as they used to be across the Midwest,” says Damon Palmer,  Dow AgroSciences Herbicide Tolerant Trait commercialization leader.

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