Waterhemp proving to be an even tougher out for farmers

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Waterhemp proving to be an even tougher out for farmers

New research suggests waterhemp could be resistant to herbicides that aren’t even in the pipeline yet.

University of Illinois professor of weed physiology Dean Riechers tells Brownfield for more than 10 years they’ve been studying the weed’s detoxification strategies and recently introduced a four decade-old chemical that was never commercialized because corn, soybeans and wheat could not metabolize it.

“We figured that if a crop can’t metabolize it, then surely resistant waterhemp can’t metabolize it either. But amazingly, when we sprayed it on resistant waterhemp, it didn’t kill the waterhemp. And we were kind of shocked by that.”

He says the novel discovery means waterhemp could theoretically be resistant to new herbicide products before they hit the market.

“Unfortunately, it’s not good news for growers. But we are finding out a lot more about the ability of these waterhemp plants to detoxify a chemical. And in this case it’s a chemical that it had never been exposed to before.”

Riechers says while the pigweed seems to be getting more and more difficult to control, he believes the ongoing research will eventually lead to chemistries that can overcome waterhemp’s resistance mechanisms.