While growers in Australia strategically take financial hits on their cropping decisions to ensure a future, many Canadian growers continue to tighten rotations on their biggest cash crops and forego proper herbicide rotation leaving the door wide open for herbicide resistance.
Josh Lade is an Australian Agronomist who has witnessed the most severe effects of herbicide resistance first-hand. "In Australia, herbicide resistance has been a terrible problem for years" says Lade. "It’s common practice for growers now to implement some sort of Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC,) such as the use of chaff carts to collect and burn weeds after harvest, or if they want to keep the nutrients from crop residue, the new and innovative use of cage mills to physically destroy any resistant/herbicide-surviving weeds and their seeds to prevent future germination." Implementing a HWSC strategy versus using herbicides has had significant financial implications for growers in Australia such as, increased fuel costs, equipment maintenance, labour costs and time management.
"It’s affected the entire way they farm. When Australian growers make cropping decisions for the upcoming year, their resistant weed spectrum is one of the primary considerations. It’s not a question of what they want to grow, it’s about what they’re able to grow."
Five years ago Josh came to Canada to fulfill a longtime dream of working on a large grain farm. John Wiebe, the owner of WG Feeders Limited hired him to work on his operation in Osler, Saskatchewan, just North of Saskatoon.
Lade recalls that there wasn’t a lot of resistance concerns when he first arrived.
"I asked around about resistance when I first started and almost everyone said it wasn’t a problem because the fall frosts and the harsh winter climate would get the weeds. I believe this may have delayed it somewhat, but resistance is definitely here now."
According to recent weed surveys, Canada currently has over 60 different resistant weed biotypes and the numbers continue to grow.
These days Josh’s farming background and experience with herbicide resistance have made him even more valuable to his employers. When asked what advice he would give to Canadian growers, he is optimistic. "Be proactive and vigilant." he says, "Learn from our mistakes. Canada is still in a good place to effectively manage resistance, so growers here need to put a plan in place while they still have the tools available."
For more information on herbicide resistance please visit MixItUp.ca or consult your local agronomist.