What is in this article?:
- Pigweed has become $100 million per year problem in Georgia cotton
- Days of cheap weed control over
• “One hundred percent of all growers who have had success will tell you the same thing. I was successful in managing the plant, but I’m not economically sustainable.”
• “We’re spending $80, $90, $100 per acre to manage this one plant. We cannot keep doing that.”
STANLEY CULPEPPER looks for a cotton plant in the midst of a bunch of Palmer amaranth plants on one of his plots at the Ponder Farm in Tifton, Ga.
Days of cheap weed control over
Before Palmer amaranth became resistant to glyphosate, farmers were spending about $23 per acre, he said. The extra costs for glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth management are proving to be detrimental to cotton farmers. This is what drives researchers like Culpepper to find a better solution.
“Folks like myself, that’s really our overall objective — figuring out how to implement new programs that are effective but more economically sustainable,” Culpepper said. “Palmer amaranth has changed the world of agriculture like no other weed.”
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The crop-altering weed makes picking cotton almost impossible due to its enormous growth potential. According to Culpepper, when conditions are favorable, Palmer amaranth can grow an inch and a half or two inches per day. It can reach a height of 7 to 10 feet tall. The overwhelming size of the plant can also adversely affect cotton equipment moving through a field.
Palmer amaranth can also rob cotton plants of much-needed resources. It competes for moisture and steals nutrients cotton. The result is reduced cotton yields.
Reproduction factors in Palmer amaranth’s role as a dominant pest, too. A female plant can produce approximately 400,000 seed in dry land production. In irrigated fields, seed production can reach 750,000 per female plant.
Despite the damage inflicted by Palmer amaranth, Culpepper believes progress has been made in the fight to manage it.
“We are making progress, but that’s only for growers that are aggressive and staying the course every year. You can’t miss one year. If you miss one year, because so many seed are produced, you’re back to ground zero,” Culpepper said.
For more information about Palmer amaranth and UGA’s programs to control it in cotton, visit http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7808.
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