Nebraska farmers are finding the herbicides they’ve used for years aren’t as effective as in the past as some of the targeted weeds been built up resistance to the chemicals.
Extension crops specialist Joel DeJong says crop protection chemical companies have not been able to introduce a new line of herbicides since the 1980s.
“It’s kind of scary, because we’ve had lots of new products on the market, but they are all from the same families that already existed,” DeJong says. “And because of that we kind of keep going back to the well and using the same ones, and if one works, we use it really hard.”
He says water hemp is one of the weeds that’s built that resistance.
“Glyphosate, or Roundup, worked extremely well and it still works extremely well on most weeds,” he says. “However, there is one or two families of weeds that have really found a way to move around how glyphosate works — so they are now becoming more resistant to it. ”
There’s not a lot farmers can do to help reduce the resistance level of weeds, he says, and even if crop protection companies were able to develop a new line of herbicide, it couldn’t be used right away.
“To pass all the hoops and everything else to make sure it’s safe to the environment and to people and to animals, it would take at least decade before that would become available to the market,” DeJong explains. “So, right now, we’ve got to figure out how we use the tools we’ve got, how do we use them better, how do we reduce the risk of maybe developing more resistance in our weeds.”