Earlier this week, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association issued a memo announcing a new initiative called the Weed Free NC Program. This is to encourage all row crop farmers to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to resistant weeds like Palmer pigweed and mare’s tail. NC State weed science professor emeritus, Dr. Alan York is on the advisory team:
“The bottom line is for us to raise a lot of awareness on the part of weeds and in particular, trying to for what Arkansas called “the zero tolerance” when they started it last year. We want to try to keep these things from going to seed and in the long term we want to hopefully reduce the seed bank quite a bit.”
This is a concept that started in an Arkansas community a couple of years ago, and has been very effective. Farmers in a community, sometimes with adjoining land, worked as a team to reduce, or in some cases eradicate resistant weeds. Rob Fleming, Scotland Neck North Carolina farmer explains that in his area the same concept has worked well:
“We have a known understanding among our community that we understand what the damage can do and everyone in this community works really hard to prevent it from being a major problem in our crops.”
In fact, it’s so effective that Fleming says there’s almost a visible line where the resistant weed problems begin:
“A different type of thing happens when you leave this area, sometimes you get into produce farms or large farmers who don’t have a lot of the residual chemicals that we use for protection. Sometimes when you leave the area there is a noticeable difference.”
Within reason, the Arkansas group said that if they’re driving down the road and see a weed in someone else’s field, they’ll stop, pull it up and carry it out of the field. York says disposal of weeds removed from the ground is important:
“By the time most people get around to pulling it up its already got seed that is viable on there.”
And York says the more people that participate in Weed Free NC, the greater the impact on resistant weeds:
“if we can get a lot of folks dong it we will have some impact.”
York sums it up this way:
“We want to encourage people to do a good job controlling weeds and if necessary do some hand weeding to keep them from going to seed.”
We’ll hear more about the Weed Free NC initiative next week at the 24th annual Joint Commodities Conference at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, Thursday and Friday.
Check back to our site as we will be fuly covering the JCC!