November 28, 2020

On the Verge: LibertyLink® Helps Fight Herbicide Resistance

When Denny Winterboer traveled to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee earlier this summer, he’ll never forget the 6-foot-tall palmer amaranth weeds that were as tall as the corn and so thick you couldn’t walk through the rows. It was sobering to learn that herbicide resistance had cost some Southern growers up to 70% of their crop.

“This was one of the most eye-opening things I’d ever seen,” said Winterboer, who farms near Fostoria and traveled to the southern United States with MaxYield Cooperative’s Greg Sweeney in June. “This was definitely a wake-up call for Iowa farmers, because we’re on the verge of serious resistance issues.”

Southern soybean field plot without weed resistance strategy.

While many of the Southern cornfields had been sprayed two or three times with Roundup®, the applications had done nothing to control the weeds. Herbicide resistance has cost the Southern growers in more ways than one, added Winterboer, who recalled the conversations he heard among landowners in Mississippi. “Farmers who are renting land are losing ground to the guys who are learning to take care of these weed issues.”

For Southern farmers who are winning the war against weeds, the LibertyLink® system has become a key tool, noted Winterboer, who is taking a look at this system. “Roundup just isn’t working anymore. We really have to get educated in what works, or the weeds will win.”

LibertyLink system offers options

Liberty herbicide can help manage the herbicide-resistant waterhemp, giant ragweed, and lambsquarters that have shown up in MaxYield’s trade territory. Resistant waterhemp has been especially troublesome in the area around Belmond, where Neal Nelson farms with his brothers, Dennis and Dave. When Mother Nature complicates matters even more, weed control can be nearly impossible.

Nelson thinks back to June of 2010, when hail and 15 inches of rain fell in about 10 days. “We got 7 of those inches in several hours from just one storm. Weed control became really difficult, especially since Roundup has lost its punch.”

While the Nelsons applied 2,4-D, this didn’t solve all their weed control issues. Situations like this highlight the need for different weed control strategies, said Greg Sweeney, a MaxYield seed solutions specialist, who sees merit in the LibertyLink system.

“Liberty herbicide does a good job of killing weeds, and LibertyLink varieties are high-yielding soybeans. Some growers in our area have been raising these beans for more than four years, and the LibertyLink beans’ yields are comparable to the Roundup Ready® beans these growers have also been planting.”

Southern soybean field using weed resistant strategy.

While Liberty herbicide is not new technology, it has come to the forefront as herbicide resistance issues have become more serious, added Sweeney, who noted that proper seed placement is important for success with LibertyLink varieties. “In the South, most growers are now using both the LibertyLink and Roundup Ready systems. During our tour, we saw how clean these fields are.”

The days of easy weed control are over

Southern growers have also adjusted their weed control systems to include more pre-emerge herbicides and no longer rely on just one chemistry or one mode of action, said Scott Gaskill, a Bayer CropScience field sales representative who works with MaxYield. In addition, these growers use full rates, rather than partial rates, of both pre-emerge and post-emerge herbicides.

“In the past, growers were using partial rates of glyphosate, because it controlled weeds and saved money. Over time, however, the weeds began to metabolize these reduced rates while continuing to grow. While glyphosate was dinging the weeds, it was no longer killing them.”

Nelson knows that early-season control is also vital to weed management success. “We’ve got to change our ways and control weeds before they get taller than a couple inches. If Iowa farmers don’t get our weed challenges under control, it could be devastating.”

This is one reason why there’s a growing interest in the LibertyLink system among area farmers, said Mark Grundmeier, a seed product manager with Latham® Hi-Tech Seeds, which offers a wide range of LibertyLink soybean varieties. “When farmers try the LibertyLink system for the first time, they are amazed at the level of herbicide performance they see and how clean their fields are.”

The LibertyLink system also offers an alternate method of weed control that will extend the useful life of glyphosate and Roundup Ready technology, added Grundmeier. Winterboer is glad that options like this exist, because he knows the stakes are high with herbicide resistance.

“Farmers are good at adapting and overcoming obstacles. They’re smart, and they’ll figure out how to use tools like the LibertyLink system to make their operations work.”

To learn more about how LibertyLink may fit your operation, contact your MaxYield agronomy specialists Greg Sweeney, 641-494-7779; Dan Stokes, 712-358-1107; and Kurt Metzger, 712-260-4491.

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