Farmers in north Alabama’s Tennessee Valley — having yet to receive the full frontal assault from resistant Palmer Amaranth pigweed — have the opportunity to be proactive about battling what has become the major pest of many Southeastern growers.

“We don’t want to see those weeds hauled away in a wagon,” says Charles Burmester, Auburn University Extension agronomist. “It’s better to be proactive on the front end and not have this problem.”

That was the idea behind the “Fighting Roundup-Resistant Horseweed and Pigweed in Northern Alabama” meeting, held this past December in Decatur, Ala. “What I’ve gathered is that next year (2011) will probably be the key year in maintaining control of the resistant Palmer pigweed we found scattered across northern Alabama last year,” Burmester says. “Almost everyone has mentioned they wish they had been more proactive when they first saw the resistance starting.

“The one thing we want to drive home with the conference is the importance of staying proactive — to stay a few steps ahead of these resistant weeds. If we don't, we could very well be plowing up fields this year because we can't control the weeds. We had meetings during the summer with chemical companies and distributors to discuss what we were seeing out in the field, especially with resistant Palmer amaranth, and we talked about what we could do. But the agricultural industry has really pulled together on this thing.”

Burmester says he really started seeing resistant Palmer pigweed in north Alabama fields about a year ago. “We just don’t have much Palmer pigweed in north Alabama, and that’s a good thing because we’ve been able to stay away from the major problems like other areas have had. Last year, I started seeing scattered pigweed in the field, and it looked like Palmer amaranth. We were going in the fields and spraying 2X and 4X rates of Roundup to see if they were resistant. In certain cases, we killed them, and in other cases, we didn’t. So we’re starting to see resistance,” he says.