Weed Wars

June 29, 2018

In the old days, Midwest farmers could joke about the weeds in their fields with one-line comebacks: "I'm going natural." "I'm waiting to see if the volunteer corn outperforms the soybeans." "I'm considering the attractions of becoming a pigweed farmer."

Glyphosate, other herbicides, and precision farming practices have changed the weed equation--but a new menace has been developing during recent years: herbicide resistance. The Weed Science Society offers this look at the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, and  their recent article sums up the problem in the title--Weeds are Winning the War Against Herbicide Resistance.  

Farmers around the world struggle to keep crops healthy, and this new CAST blog looks at a variety of  links related to the topic. A good basis for understanding the issue comes from CAST IP#58, Crop Protection Contributions toward Agricultural Productivity.

In the "if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" vein, some foodies recommend eating weeds in salads and casseroles. Decades ago while trying for a Boy Scout merit badge (not sure which one, but it should have been called "Hunger Games"), I had to make a meal out of what I could find in the woods. I used lambs quarter and dandelions for the salad. That's fine, but I can't imagine eating the cockleburrs, buttonweeds, and Canadian thistles we used to battle in the fields. If we don't keep innovating our crop protection methods, it could get ugly--today's Palmer amaranth plants are getting big enough they might eat us. "Feed me, Seymour."