Herbicide Use in Corn Benefits Cotton and Peanut Farming

Herbicide Use in Corn: Treated (L) Untreated (R)

Herbicide Use in Corn: Treated (L) Untreated (R)

In southern states, corn is often planted in a three-year rotation with peanuts and cotton. One of the values of having corn in the rotation is that effective herbicides that are used in the corn crop control populations of weed species that would be difficult to control in the peanut and cotton crops. Thus, the control effectiveness of the corn herbicides benefit the succeeding peanut and cotton crops.

“Corn in a Deep South crop rotation remains one of the best weed management tools or decisions a grower can make – when he can make it. A corn crop squeezed into a field at least every three years in a corn-cotton-peanut cycle is most effective.

“There is an inherent value to a good crop rotation that is likely priceless, especially in the long-term weed management of a farm,” says Eric Prostko, weed specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

For corn particularly, its arsenal of herbicides is a welcomed addition to fields, he says, noting that most common field corn herbicide programs farmers use all give similar weed control results.

“But for one big reason, corn is the only major crop we grow where we don’t have to use a PPO (protoporphyrinogen oxidase) herbicide. Atrazine is carrying the load for us with corn” he says.

That herbicide’s economic, broad-spectrum weed control is certainly a plus, but the biggest benefit it brings to fields in the Deep South is its control of pigweed – a problem that isn’t going away.

For south Georgia farmer Philip Grimes, the atrazine-glyphosate one-two punch that his corn rotation provides is essential to his management of herbicide-resistant pigweed that showed up on his farm a couple of years ago.”

Author: Haire, B.
Affiliation: Reporter
Title: Corn in rotation a strong weed management tool
Source: Delta Farm Press. 2014-01-17.

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Herbicides Improve Dove Hunting in the Southeast

Doves over a sunflower field

Doves over a sunflower field

The mourning dove is one of the most numerous, widely hunted, and economically valuable game birds in Mississippi and the Southeast. For decades, landowners and wildlife managers have planted fields in agronomic crops to attract doves for sport hunting—a practice that led to these types of fields being known more simply as “dove fields.”

“…dove fields traditionally have been planted in one or more grain crops such as corn, sorghum, millets, wheat, and sunflowers. Although the concept of planting sunflowers to attract doves is nothing new, their use as a dove field crop has been limited over the years. However, when environmental conditions permit, a well-managed stand of sunflowers can be one of the most productive dove fields in the Southeast.

Weed control is a key component of managing sunflowers for dove fields. Doves prefer to feed in areas of clean, open ground. An effective weed control program will render fields more attractive to doves.

Herbicide applications are the most practical and cost-effective means of weed control in sunflower fields. For many years, only a few herbicides were labeled and marketed for use with sunflowers. However, because sunflower production is on the rise, more herbicides are labeled for sunflowers than ever before. Weed control via herbicide applications is essential for maximizing sunflower seed yields.”

Author: Nelms, K., et al.
Affiliation: Natural Resources Conservation Service & Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Title: Growing and Managing Sunflowers for Dove Fields in the Southeast.
Source: Mississippi State University Extension Service Publication 2725. 2012.

Europe Could Learn a Lot from US farmers about Using Fungicides on Corn Crops

Eyespot Disease on Maize Leaves

Eyespot Disease on Maize Leaves

Recently in the US, farmers have increasingly used fungicides on corn crops with a noticeable yield increase. There is significant corn (maize) acreage in Europe, but hardly even any research on fungicides. Recently, a European researcher experimented with fungicides and discovered the great potential of using fungicides for this overlooked problem.

“Since 2008, fungicide trials have been carried out by both the Danish advisory service (Knowledge Centre for Agriculture) and University of Aarhus to test the impact of fungicides on control of leaf diseases. In several of the trials, significant levels of diseases have occurred and significant yield responses have been obtained.

In 2009, a severe attack of northern corn leaf blight (E. turcicum) developed and 50% yield increases were accomplished from fungicide treatments in a number of trials. In 2011, a severe and early attack of Eyespot (K. zeae) developed in several trials and in that season yield increases between 50 to 60% were also achieved in grain maize crops in fields with minimal tillage with maize as the previous crop.

Based on good efficacy trials, the first fungicide epoxiconazole plus pyraclostrobin (as Opera) was authorized in Denmark for control of the leaf diseases in maize between detection of 3rd node and the tassels appearing at the top of the stem (BBCH GS 33-51).

For scientists, advisors and farmers, it was a surprise that yield reducing leaf diseases could play such a major role in the production of maize. When looking around Europe for information on this subject, we were slightly surprised that very little information on the use of fungicides was available. When looking around we also realized that in many countries no fungicides are authorized for control. Looking across to the US, which has long experiences with foliar diseases, there seem to be more knowledge available on disease management, including experiences from use of fungicides.”

Author: Jorgensen, L. N.
Affiliation: Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark
Title: Significant yield increases from control of leaf diseases in maize – an overlooked problem?!
Source: Outlooks on Pest Management. August 2012. Pgs.162-165.

To Increase Income and Competiveness, Public Policy Should Educate African Maize Farmers About the Benefits of Using Herbicides

Weedy Maize Field: Africa

Weedy Maize Field: Africa

Maize consumption is a major source of calories for millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Within the next few decades, the majority of people in Sub-Saharan Africa will be living in cities. Countries in eastern and southern Africa are increasing imports of staple foods, including maize. In order to be competitive, African farmers need to reduce the cost of producing a unit of maize. Herbicide adoption would greatly reduce costs of growing maize and lead to greater yields and farmer income and competiveness.

“Rural smallholder production remains highly labor-intensive. On average, family labor accounts for 62% of the total cost of maize production in Zambia’s small- and medium-scale farm sector. Promoting the identification and adoption of practices and technologies that save labor and/or identifying labor-productivity-enhancing technologies through research and development will therefore help to make Zambian maize more competitive and allow farmers to maintain profitability even at lower producer prices.

Although only 3% of fields had herbicides applied, regression results suggest the benefits of its use are quite high. All else equal, applying herbicides increases gross margin between ZMK 363,700 to ZMK 376,300 per hectare planted… The magnitude of this effect is fairly large compared to the national average margin of ZMK 1,108,542 (in other words, at the mean, herbicide use would increase gross margins by roughly a third). …these results indicate that public policy measure should be considered to educate farmers about the benefits of herbicide application, as its contribution to smallholder income growth and regional competitiveness may be comparable to and highly synergistic with increased fertilizer use.”

Authors: Burke, W. J., et al.
Affiliation: Zambia Food Security Research Project (FSRP)
Title: The cost of maize production by smallholder farmers in Zambia
Source: Food Security Research Project. Working Paper 50. March 2011. Available at: http://www.aec.msu.edu/agecon/fs2/zambia/index.htm 

Hand-Weeding Labor Shortages Result in Organic Crop Loss

Agriculture is facing a severe shortage of workers. Many fruit crops are even going unharvested because of a lack of pickers. Organic growers require more labor for tasks such as weeding since herbicides cannot be used. A recent experience by an organic grower in Washington illustrates the risk of going without herbicides in these times of labor shortages…

“Jon Warling, a labor contractor in Othello, said demand for workers is high and that an organic corn grower near Connell is discing under his corn because he can’t find enough workers for weeding.”

Author: D. Wheat
Headline: Labor committee hears litany of woe.
Publication: CapitalPress.com. July 20, 2012.

Sustainable Ag Pioneers Learn Value of Modern Herbicides

Dick and Sharon Thompson of Boone, Iowa are pioneering giants of the sustainable agriculture research agenda in the U.S. They helped found Practical Farmers of Iowa. Since 1986, the Thompsons have conducted on-farm research trials and have produced an annual report. The Thompson farm is not organic; however, they generally do not use herbicides, preferring to use a rotary hoe to destroy weeds. In most years, the mechanical control works well, but then came the very rainy 2008 growing season…

“2008 was not a good year for soybeans because of weather, rain and more rain. This was the first year that we lost money on a soybean field. We could not rotary hoe. The beans were good size when we cultivated the first time (June 24). The cultivator threw soil in and around the bean plants, looked like an excellent job. It rained 1.25 inches two days later on June 26 starting all the weed seed we pushed into the row. We had grass in the row, which is not the norm, along with broadleaf weeds. … The field was a mess. The rope wicks attached [to] our old hyboy filled with round up [herbicide] went up and back on the same rows to kill the weeds so that our small combine could harvest the field. The rope wick killed the weeds and the combine was able to handle the dead weeds. The yield was 37 bushel per acre, 7 bushel below county average of 44 and we lost $49 per acre. The field was sprayed for aphids adding more expense.”

“We could not manage weeds in the end rows of corn and soybean fields without herbicides.”

Authors: Dick and Sharon Thompson
Publication: Thompson Agriculture Alternatives 2009 Report
Available at: http://www.practicalfarmers.org/resources/alternatives-in-agriculture.html