If Roundup Was Banned...

If Roundup was banned…,

People would need to start reading seed tags.

Stop and think about this for a minute. We have become a lazy society. We plant weeds and we plant to encourage weed growth. We then decide to kill weeds by using Roundup. We stopped using integrated weed management in favor of killing undesirable weeds. With anything in life, there comes resistance. Many weeds are now resistant to roundup. This is the same thing that happens with many drugs. If you take penicillin every time you’re not feeling well, eventually it will not work anymore, then what?

Some of the common roundup resistant weeds are mares tail, common ragweed, palmer amaranth, water hemp, and kochia. These weeds can make weed management a major challenge. So, here is a different angle to the Roundup discussion, quality seed management.

Once upon a time there was premiums paid for quality seed. Factors like germination count and weed seed levels considered into the pricing structure. Many poorer quality seeds had to be discounted. I recently had this discussion with someone high up in the seed chain. His comment was that most companies don’t even ask for a tag. Many seeds are just sold as a commodity. Stop and think about that for a second. If gemination count and weed seed levels are not looked at by those in distribution as well as the sales level, why is that? It is because end users stopped caring or do not understand why they should care.

Here is where there is a solution. Areas to do better

  1. Look at germination levels. 90% germ is 12.5% more viable seeds than 80%

  2. Look at the weed seed levels. 0.60% weeds are 6 times more weed seeds than 0.10%

  3. Know how much pure live seed is required for a 100% stand of any forage you plant.

  4. Understand how to determine if your bag of seed actually results in 100% coverage for the area your planting.

  5. Make sure your seed is fresh, and has been stored in an airtight package and not exposed to sun and excessive temps.

  6. Plant the right place, the right time, and the right way.

When you decide what to buy and you see that seed that is high in weed seed levels, think about how many weeds you may be planting. Some of these prolific weeds can produce over 100,000 seeds per plant and can have over 100,000 seeds per pound and some much higher. When you get out the calculator. If your seed bag lists 0.60% weed seeds that could be 25,000 extra weed seeds in that 50 lb. bag of oats or food plot blend. Try this out yourself. Figure out how many weeds your bag of see potentially has by multiplying weed seed % by size of the bag. Now determine how much of an acre that bag plants. You should have a good idea how many weed seeds your spreading over your field or plot.

When you go to plant your blends, if you are not getting a thick enough stand, these are the conditions for weeds to take over. Why not let the new growth of a plot naturally smother out weeds versus allow the open canopy for weeds to find the light of day?

Organic farmers have for years had to become master seedsmen and land stewards. The benefit of this is healthy soil, healthier forages and integrated weed management. We don’t need to kill off every weed we see but control them to levels that are not a problem in our fields. Knowing our weeds is also essential in this process. Why buy weeds?

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