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Weed Challenges Top of Mind for Farmers

Dec 07 2021

Survey shows average farmer thinks about weed management weekly

It’s no surprise that weed management is a key issue for the agriculture industry, with several weeds reproducing and wreaking havoc on fields, becoming resistant to traditional herbicide applications.

But did you know that on average, farmers spend about four hours a week planning their weed management program and thinking about pigweed resistance?

This is according to a recent market research survey by Kynetec, sponsored by BASF. The study looked specifically at pigweed resistance management perceptions and protocols among Soybean, Corn, Cotton & Rice farmers in the Midwest, Southeast and Delta.

What the Study Uncovered

In addition to weed management being top of mind, nearly two-thirds of farmers reported experiencing resistance issues in their fields, primarily during the last 3-6 years. Not surprisingly, weeds of top concern included Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and marestail, according to the survey.

That said, determining the best course of action for managing resistant pigweeds was viewed as difficult or at least somewhat difficult by two-thirds of farmers. “frustrating, challenging, tough, difficult and never ending” were some of the words these farmers used to describe their experience combatting resistant pigweeds.

That difficulty was attributed to a variety of reasons, including identifying the best product choice, dealing with weather variables, determining appropriate application timing and addressing other unknown factors/changes with the seasons. While farmers may currently be frustrated with weeds, most indicated a willingness to adapt and adopt new weed control practices to help combat these difficult weeds. In fact, 88 percent were extremely or moderately willing to do so.

What This Means for Farmers

Fortunately, farmers are not alone when it comes to addressing and improving the issue of weeds and weed resistance, which can impact crop health, yields, profits, etc.

To help farmers increase their yield, lessen future input costs and create more long-term sustainability for their operation and the industry, more education and support is key. This is driven home further by the fact that the survey not only showed that farmers found weed control difficult, but nearly half waited until weeds were larger than recommended for crop protection applications.

This is the focus of Operation Weed Eradication, a BASF-led, industry-wide initiative driving a zero tolerance, eradication mindset toward pigweed to help improve farmers’ outcomes.

A mix of cultural, mechanical, chemical and diligence-related practices are needed to control resistant pigweed. For the chemistry aspect of weed control, BASF recommends that farmers take a STOP approach. This includes the following:

  • S – Start clean and stay clean. Control weeds prior to planting and escapes throughout the season
  • T – Target weeds. Small weeds are easier to control before they go to seed
  • O – Optimize coverage. Follow the correct rate, water volume and nozzle recommendations for optimum droplet size
  • P – Pair with residuals. Use multiple effective sites of action with pre and post residuals

The STOP approach can help farmers reduce weed problems by leveraging a full-program approach to managing the season’s weeds (including pre-emergence and post-emergence applications), layering in residual herbicides as part of the program, and incorporating multiple modes of action.

Plan ahead and budget early benefits the grower in both the short- and long-run. BASF recommends that farmers start with a pre-residual herbicide and be sure to utilize a post-residual herbicide along with knockdown to address late-season weed control.

Pre-emergent herbicides can help protect yield at the early vegetative stages, providing effective residual weed control. Weeds can directly reduce yield by competing for light, moisture and nutrients. Running a pre-emergent residual can help defend yield when weather or workload delays post-emergent herbicide applications. 

They act as an insurance policy against early-season weeds, giving farmers more flexibility for successful post-herbicide applications later in the season. A weed that can’t emerge won’t turn into a weed that’s difficult to control later. This is especially important when it comes to weeds like pigweed and waterhemp, which can produce 250,000 or more seeds per plant.

Farmers should consider upgrading to a long-lasting pre-emergent. Zidua® PRO herbicide offers fast and complete burndown with up to two weeks longer residual than many competitive products. With built-in resistance management and no planting restrictions on most soil types, it tackles pigweed when and where needed.

But farmers can’t and shouldn’t stop there. While many weeds may emerge early in the season then stop germinating, pigweed species tend to emerge throughout the season, meaning farmers may see a clean field in June/July but a field full of weeds in August.

Weed control doesn’t strop after spraying knockdown herbicides. Pigweed germinates through the season, especially in warmer clients, so having a plan in place to address late-season weeds is a crucial aspect of managing the spread of resistance.

To address these later-season weeds, farmers should consider adding a residual component to their post-emergent application as a key element of a tank mix. This approach gives farmers what they need for currently emerged weeds plus future protection at the same time.

For example, for dicamba-tolerant soybeans, farmers can select a post-herbicide such as Engenia® herbicide then add Zidua® SC herbicide for additional support. Engenia herbicide provides broadleaf weed control while Zidua SC herbicide offers superior waterhemp and Palmer amaranth performance. Zidua SC also can go across all traits, not only dicamba-tolerant acres.

Another option for farmers is Liberty® herbicide plus Outlook® herbicide. Liberty herbicide delivers superior weed control across multiple trait systems while Outlook herbicide gives farmers the advantage of only needing a quarter inch of water to activate.

For more information on recommended herbicide products, farmers can visit

Where Farmers Can Find Additional Resources for Managing Resistant Palmer and Waterhemp in their Row Crops

For farmers who need or want additional support, Operation Weed Eradication can provide the resources they need.

By visiting, farmers can find tips and information on:

  • Cultural and Mechanical Practices – Narrow rows, cover crops, crop rotation, tillage and cultivation
  • Chemical Control and Traits – Traits, sites of action, complete program, proper application
  • Eradication Diligence – Non-crop areas, clean equipment, hand rogueing
  • Farmer Journey Fields – Shared experiences on journey toward pigweed eradication

The site also includes additional resources to help farmers combat problem pigweed in row crops, including handouts, articles and scorecards to help with their individual situations and operations.

In the end, when farmers are spending their four hours a week thinking about weed management, they should think about BASF track record of providing farmers with innovative weed control solutions to help not only with yield ad quality, but also resistance management, for a successful field and season.

Engenia herbicide is a U.S. EPA restricted-use pesticide. Always read and follow label directions. Engenia®, Liberty®, Outlook® and Zidua® are registered trademarks of BASF. ©2021 BASF Corporation. All rights reserved.