What is in this article?:
• Cotton growers in Virginia and North Carolina have been using Ignite herbicide on Phytogen cotton with good success, even though they are very careful in how they make the applications.
• Both Bayer CropScience, which sells LibertyLink cotton varieties that are tolerant of Ignite herbicide, and Dow AgriChemical, which sells Phytogen Widestrike cotton seed frown on the practice.
• Both claim no responsibility if growers damage their crop, but the practice is legal, as long as growers follow label restrictions on the herbicide.
CLIFF FOX, who farms in Capron, Va., says Ignite does cause some burn on his cotton, but doesn’t affect yield.
Learned from neighbors to south
“I think our growers really learned from their neighbors to the south — they saw the problems growers in the Carolinas were having with herbicide resistant weeds. Palmer amaranth is the big one, but we have resistance in other weeds and grasses as well,” Parker says.
“One big tool our growers are using is Ignite. Once pigweed gets through residual herbicides, we can still manage weeds with Ignite. Without it growers would be looking at a lot of expensive hand labor to keep resistant weeds under control,” he adds.
“There is no doubt that Ignite or glufosinate helps us keep our weeds under control, especially in fields with weeds that are resistant to Roundup or glyphosate. When growers start using glufosinate on crops that are not in the LibertyLink program, then it starts getting interesting, Parker says.
“When a farmer has a weed complex that drives him to glufosinate, he must understand the risk he is taking by using Ignite or glufosinate on Widestrike cotton and weigh that against the risk he is facing by having weeds in his cotton field.
“Right now, the best option for Roundup Ready crops that have ALS resistance and possible glyphosate resistance is using Ignite. The real risk may be of over-using Ignite and getting into a similar problem we already have with glyphosate resistant weeds,” Parker stresses.
“I think the producer needs to understand the risk, he doesn’t need to be protected from the risk. It’s hard to tell cotton growers in Virginia they are messing up by using Ignite on Widestrike cotton, because they are using the combination and making 1,300-1,400 pound per acre cotton,” Parker notes.
“There are some situations in which a grower would be better off using Ignite only on LibertyLink cotton. If they know they have a problem with glyphosate resistant pigweed, and they know they will be spraying cotton the maximum amount with Ignite, they may be better off sticking with cotton varieties that have the specific gene for resistance to glufosinate,” he concludes.
In these days of high tech agriculture, with multiple genes in seed to protect crops from one thing or another, the question whether to use Ignite herbicide on Widestrike cotton comes down pretty much to common sense.
Common sense tells you that if you use the combination, you have some inherent risk. It also tells you not to spray in the middle of a hot day and to not use any kind of adjuvant to make the herbicide hotter.
Growers are not likely to get an official list of what to do and what not to do when using Ignite herbicide on Widestrike cotton. Balancing the risk involved in growing a crop is as old as farming itself, and growers are likely to make the right decision most of the time.