Management strategies to control resistant pigweed in carrot production

Kristen Callow, Weed Management Lead – Horticulture

The Problem

Carrot growers in particular are struggling with resistant pigweed in Ontario fields, a problem that was studied extensively in 2011 and 2012. As far back as 1997, resistance to group 5 herbicides (prometryne) was noted. Then in 1998, resistance to group 2 (rimsulfuron) herbicides was noted. Resistance to group 7 (linuron) herbicides appeared in 1999. There are some weed populations with multiple resistance (i.e. resistance to both group 5 and group 7 herbicides or maybe even to three different herbicide groups).

Different pigweed species are showing resistance to herbicides, including:

  • Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus, L.)
  • Green pigweed (Amaranthus powellii, S. Watson)
  • Smooth pigweed (Amaranthus hybridus, L.)
  • Common waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus, syn, rudis)

Without effective herbicides, growers are using alternative methods to manage pigweed, including:

  1. Wick-weeding with glyphosate (Figure 1).
  2. Hand hoeing and removing pigweed from the field.
Figure 1. Wicking weeding pigweed with glyphosate
Figure 1. Wicking weeding pigweed with glyphosate

At the recent Muck Crops Conference during the resistant weed workshop, we heard that 95% of producers have resistant weeds on their farm.  The majority of resistance is Group 7 (linuron) resistant pigweed, with some cases having multiple resistance to Group 5 (prometryne).

Currently, the only other herbicides registered for control of pigweed in carrots are:

Herbicide Group Pigweed Control* Application Restrictions
trifluralin (Treflan, Rival, Bonanza) 3 G Do not apply on soil with > 15% organic matter
s-metolachlor (Dual II Magnum) 15 G
carfentrazone (Aim) 14 G Hooded sprayer between rows

*E = excellent; F = fair; G = good; Refer to label for directions for use. This information is provided as a general outline only.

The best strategy to manage this herbicide resistant pigweed is to use multiple approaches, also known as Integrated Weed Management (IWM):

1.    Crop Rotation

The more diverse the rotation the less selection pressure there will be on weeds to develop resistance because timing of tillage and other management practices will vary. Rotation to crops (e.g. onions, beets) where herbicides can be used to control pigweed can be beneficial. See table below for herbicides that can be used on common rotational crops of carrots. These are provided as a general outline only. Please refer to complete label before using these products.

Crop Herbicide Group
Onions Chateau, Goal, Aim 14
Prowl 3
Pardner 6
Frontier 15
Beets Nortron– soil type restrictions 16
Upbeet 2

2.    Minimizing the Depth of Tillage (when possible)

Deep tillage continually inverts the soil bringing weed seeds to the surface.  If you shallowly till your fields (2-4 inches maximum) you will deplete the seed bank over time. This practice will result in a more even emergence of weeds, allowing better control from herbicide applications.

3.     Removing Weeds from the Field – Sanitation

It is important to remove suspected resistant weeds from the field before they go to seed.  This will prevent seed return to the soil. Effective removal of plants by hand requires more than just cutting them off. Plants must be uprooted and removed from the field. Paying a crew of people to remove plants in mid-season should be considered a viable solution, even at a relatively high cost. The result of not doing so could be a substantial loss of income in future years. It is best to burn these weeds instead of feeding them to livestock or disposing by other means.  It has been shown that fire will kill viable seeds left on the seed head.  Whereas, many weed seeds can survive through the digestive tract of livestock and could potentially become a problem for the producer taking the manure for fertilizer.

4.     Cleaning Equipment – Sanitation

Resistant weed seeds can be easily spread by any and all types of farm equipment entering the field.  Take special care to clean all equipment before you enter another field or drive significant distances along roads or highways. 

Figure 2. Size of redroot pigweed seed - © Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database
Figure 2. Size of redroot pigweed seed – © Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database
Figure 3. Pigweed seed in man’s hand  http://talk.newagtalk.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=340200
Figure 3. Pigweed seed in man’s hand
http://talk.newagtalk.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=340200
Figure 4. Jar of 500,000 pigweed seeds http://ocj.com/2013/04/keep-close-watch-for-palmer-amaranth/
Figure 4. Jar of 500,000 pigweed seeds
http://ocj.com/2013/04/keep-close-watch-for-palmer-amaranth/
Figure 5. Weed seeds on axle of tractor
Figure 5. Weed seeds on axle of tractor

5.    Herbicides that are Currently in the Pesticide Registration System

There are several projects currently in the Canadian Minor Use System for potential registration in the future (see Table below). Keep in mind that these products are not registered for these uses.

Herbicide Group Pigweed Control* Stage of Registration Potential Registration Date (Estimation)
Blazer Ultra 14 E Project initiated 2016
Nortron SC 16 F – G 2011 project, efficacy, residue and crop tolerance data required 2015
Prowl H2O 3 F – G Submitted 2012, residue analytical methodology required 2014
Sencor (potential resistance already) 5 E 2008 project, residue data required 2014

*E = excellent; F = fair; G = good

Overall, remember once you have a resistant weed on your farm, it is there to stay.  For example, pigweed can produce on average 100,000 seeds per plant and can remain in the soil for close to 40 years.  It is best to use a combination of the above management techniques (integrated weed management) to help minimize the resistant seed return to the soil each year.

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