The first step is acceptance, and no, we’re not talking about a 12-step program. The name of this game is glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed, and the first step in preventing or battling it is admitting you have a problem.

“Don’t deny it, and don’t say that you’ve got only three or four on your farm, and you’re not going to do anything about it. It’s here and it’s real,” says Patrick Turnhage, a west Tennessee farmer. Turnhage was on a panel of consultants and growers telling of their experiences with resistant Palmer pigweed during a recent meeting in Decatur in north Alabama

Turnhage said it was great to see such a large turnout at the meeting focusing on resistant pigweed. “Five years ago, you couldn’t get two or three people together long enough to talk about it. If someone said resistant pigweed, they’d bust up like a covey of quail. You should treat a farm as if you cannot kill a pigweed. If it gets its head above ground and you treat it, but treat it as if you cannot kill it with anything, you’ll be successful,” he says.

It’s important, he says, to overlap pre-emergence treatments and chemistries by following a calendar rather than by driving out into the field to see if pigweeds are emerging.

“If that pre-emergence has a two-week residual, you need to get out in 10 days and spray. You’ve got to learn how to spray clean ground. It’s hard to do — it’s hard to spray something that is as clean as a concrete parking lot, but you’ve got to try and do it if you want to stay in business,” says Turnhage.

Resistant pigweed is putting farmers out of business, he adds. “We’re talking about bush hogging 80-acre cotton fields and disking up 1,000 acres at a time because they’d be alright,” he says.

Next July, says Turnhage, you can go to the foothills of Missouri, in west Tennessee, and tell exactly to the row where people have applied their pre-emergence, and where people are digging and trying to rescue their crop. “They’re spending more money trying to rescue it than they would have putting out the pre-emergence in a timely manner. My grandfather always said that you should spend money only on the things that make you money, and these pre-emergence treatments will make you money and keep you in business,” he says.

Turnhage farms about 5,000 acres of which approximately 3,000 will be planted in cotton this spring.

“We’ll actually put out herbicide before we do any tillage, because you can’t rely on tillage alone to eliminate that problem. Disking, bedding or chiseling alone won’t do the job. You have to kill pigweed before it gets above the ground.”