PMN Crop News Homepage   

Posted 29 December 2014. PMN Crop News.

Hidden Costs of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

Source: United Soybean Board Press Release.

Chesterfield, Missouri (December 8, 2014)--Herbicide-resistant weeds are a known threat to American soybean farmers. Spreading quickly across the country, these weed varieties threaten yields and increase management costs. However, other often overlooked factors add to the financial implications of these pests. For example, farmers who do not have a comprehensive weed-management program can also suffer from reduced land values and lost rental agreements.


“Herbicide-resistant weeds can pose a critical problem for farmers,” says Clyde Smith, a field development representative for United Phosphorus Inc., a supplier of crop-protection and plant products. “People have lost the land they were renting and have even gone out of business because they failed to control weeds.”

Allowing weeds to take control of a field can tarnish a farmer’sreputation with other potential landlords.

“Those who don’t implement effective weed management will affect the land value and can affect their ability to rent that land,” Smith explains. “I have seen landowners forced to lower rates by 30 percent because their renters didn’t control the weeds on their farm.”

Farmers who own the land they operate are not immune to the financial woes herbicide-resistant weeds can create. If farm ground has a history of weed mismanagement, that can impact the price of the property if it comes up for sale.

“Land values are impacted by poor weed-management practices because of the high costs to clean up fields overrun with weeds,” says Jeffrey Hignight, a professional farm manager and real estate broker for Glaub Farm Management in Jonesboro, Arkansas. “When a piece of land becomes available and the weeds are out of control, people take that into consideration when pricing a property.”

Cleaning up land overrun with weeds takes a significant commitment of both time and money.

“To keep weeds out, you need to use both pre- and post-emergence herbicides and spread residuals every chance that you get,” Smith said. “This can cost from $20 to $30 more an acre, but the yields often make up the difference.”

Hignight encourages farmers to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to weeds, which could mean removing them by hand, if necessary.

“Field perimeters are generally the most difficult areas to manage weeds,”Hignight said. “Keeping ditches and turnrows mowed reduces weeds from going to seed. It’s the seedbank for the next year, so it matters just as much as killing weeds in the field.”

For more information about herbicide resistance and to use weed-management resources developed by the soy checkoff, visit the Take Action website.