The value of weed control

By Gary Joiner

Weeds are not welcome on the farm.

Unfortunately, in Texas this year, they’ve arrived in big numbers. Weather conditions opened the door wide. Farmers now must deal with them. And they really don’t have a choice.

A new national study by weed experts explains why. The research focused on corn and soybeans. It determined that more than half of corn production and value across North America would potentially be lost with weeds left uncontrolled. Ditto for soybeans. The loss figure for that crop is nearly half, if weeds were left uncontrolled.

Farmers must fight. The economics are too important. Controlling weeds in U.S. corn and soybean fields saves an astounding $43 billion a year. And that’s just two crops.

One of the top crop protection tools in the battle is glyphosate. It’s the world’s most heavily used herbicide. The news this week was the release of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on the safeness of the product. EPA has been evaluating glyphosate for the purposes of reregistration–or approving its continued use–since 2009.

The report concluded the product is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. The document was pulled down by the agency shortly after its release. Members of Congress want to know why. Time will tell.

Farmers trust the safeness of glyphosate and other licensed products that protect their fields. Texas growers must continue to use the production tools that are available to them. The value of controlling weeds, in this case, is too high.

Gary Joiner

Gary Joiner is the senior associate director of Public Relations for Texas Farm Bureau.

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