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Delta Farm Press
by Tom Barber, Jason Norsworthy and Tommy Butts - February 15, 2021
Last summer an article was written about two fields of concern in Mississippi County
where three applications of glufosinate failed to control Palmer amaranth. Upon first
observation of these fields, a familiar sinking feeling started to appear. These
left-over pigweed plants were in only a few spots (Figure 1 ) across each field and
appeared to be the result of seed from a surviving mother plant the year before. Usually,
if resistance is occurring it will be in small spots across the field or in a combined
pattern from harvest the year before. These two fields had that “look” and were very
suspicious, to say the least.
Figure 1. Palmer amaranth survivors following three applications of glufosinate in
Areas of live plants were flagged in each field, and as stated in the earlier post,
plants were soaked with 2% solution of Liberty and evaluated ten days later. At time
of evaluation, few plants were dead in the area that had been sprayed earlier. Seed
was collected from both field sites from matured plants for screening in the greenhouse
over the winter in Fayetteville, AR.
Dr. Jason Norsworthy’s weed science program at Fayetteville, AR has evaluated both
samples from Mississippi County along with another sample collected the previous year
from Crittenden County (Figure 2). Initial greenhouse experiments involved a rate
response study to evaluate glufosinate effectiveness on these samples. Initial results
indicated that 32 fl oz/A Liberty (glufosinate) was not providing control in the greenhouse
and furthermore survivors were present following applications up to 256 oz/A (Figure
Figure 2: Palmer amaranth survivors following 5 applications of glufosinate in Crittenden
Figure 3: Glufosinate rate response on a Mississippi County Palmer amaranth population
The “official” screening process to confirm resistance involved a glufosinate rate
titration where several rates (up to 16X the labeled rate of 29 oz/A) of glufosinate
were sprayed on the populations in question Based on a LD50 curve, which is the lethal
dose needed to kill 50% of the population, and compared to a susceptible standard,
the biotype from Crittenden County is 3.5 times less sensitive to glufosinate (Figure
5). Rate titrations are continuing on the Mississippi County populations but at this
time they appear to be at least 15 times more resistant than the susceptible standard
used for evaluation in the screening.
Figure 4: Number of palmer amaranth survivors/100 plants evaluated following multiple
rates of glufosinate
Figure 5: LD50 Curves Showing Response From Crittenden Co. and susceptible standard
palmer amaranth to glufosinate rates
According to Ian Heap’s International Resistant Weed Database, only 4 weeds in the
world have developed resistance to glufosinate, including perennial ryegrass (New
Zealand), rigid ryegrass (Greece), Italian ryegrass (New Zealand, Oregon and California)
and goosegrass (Malaysia).
This finding will represent the first documented case of broadleaf resistance to glufosinate
herbicide in the world. It is not a big surprise that Palmer amaranth has developed
resistance to glufosinate considering the history. Cotton producers have heavily
relied on glufosinate since 2007, where widespread occurrence of glyphosate (Roundup)
resistance was present in pigweed populations across this geography. Twelve or more
years of selection pressure due to glyphosate resistance in Northeast Arkansas has
placed tremendous stress on several key herbicide modes of action including glufosinate.
Further testing is currently underway to determine if there is multiple-resistance
to other herbicide modes of action in these three populations. Currently, this problem
does not appear to be widespread across Mississippi and Crittenden county or the Northeast,
Arkansas area based on extensive screenings that have been taking place in this geography.
Although it stands to reason that several other fields likely contain small segments
of the Palmer amaranth population that has reduced sensitivity to glufosinate.
Special care should be taken in the future to remove any escaped pigweed populations
prior to seed set, regardless of crop grown in the field. In addition, we are recommending
that these fields be rotated to corn if possible due to the herbicide alternatives
available in a corn production system. These populations have also been screened
with dicamba (Engenia). At this time, it appears dicamba has good activity on two
of the three glufosinate-resistant populations. Growers who will not rotate from
cotton or soybean, should strongly consider the Enlist system as a technology rotation
because Enlist One plus glufosinate continues to provide the most consistent control
of emerged Palmer amaranth following a single application. Applying multiple residuals
at planting such as Brake + Cotoran in cotton or metribuzin + Group 15 (Anthem/Zidua,
Dual Magnum, Outlook etc.) in soybean is HIGHLY recommended, regardless of the technology planted, as well as overlapping group 15
residuals POST to reduce Palmer amaranth emergence throughout the season. Unfortunately,
all of these suggestions are short-term solutions. A long-term solution for pigweed
control in Arkansas will require multiple cultural tactics including deep tillage,
cover crops, crop rotation, hand weeding and harvest weed seed control to reduce selection
pressure from current herbicides and increase focus on pigweed seed bank reduction.
Our neighbors in Tennessee have identified dicamba-resistant pigweed and it stands
to reason scattered populations also exist in Arkansas. There is currently now more
than ever a dire need for development of a new herbicide mode of action for pigweed
control in Arkansas.