Advent of Roundup opens up new tillage options, scientist says


Capital Press

Northwest sugar beet growers can learn more about Roundup Ready production, strip tillage and other topics during a conference in early January.

The 2010 Snake River Sugar Beet Conference will be held Jan. 8 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Strip tillage, which limits tilling to the narrow strip in which seeds are planted, will be a major topic.

The practice has been catching on in southcentral Idaho, where about 5,600 acres of beets were planted under strip tillage this year. That's up from virtually none two years ago, according to The Amalgamated Sugar Co. field department.

Members of a grower panel will share their experiences. Many have reported reduced soil erosion and improved water conservation with strip tillage.

Soil scientists with the University of Idaho and USDA's Agricultural Research Service will discuss recent nutrient management research related to strip tillage. Representatives from Orthman Manufacturing will provide insights from an industry perspective.

Strip tillage probably wouldn't be catching on among beet growers if it weren't for the adoption of Roundup Ready varieties, said Don Morishita, a University of Idaho Extension weed scientist.

"It would just be too difficult," he said. "It wouldn't be practical because growers wouldn't be able to control the weeds as well as they can with Roundup."

Roundup is a broad-spectrum herbicide made by Monsanto. Growers who use Roundup Ready varieties can spray their entire fields with the herbicide, killing a wide range of problem weeds without causing injury to their beets.

Speakers will also discuss the economics of using Roundup tank mixes with Roundup Ready beets, Roundup application timing and nitrogen's influence on weed control.

Growers have been somewhat reluctant to use Roundup tank mixes because of the cost of buying additional herbicides, Morishita said.

But he's found that tank mixes that combine Roundup with registered soil-active herbicides such as Outlook or Nortron can be more effective than Roundup alone.

Growers could probably get by with a single Roundup tank mix application rather than the two or three applications of straight Roundup that many use, Morishita said.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to use tank mixes is that different herbicides have different chemical modes of action, thereby reducing the chance that weeds will develop resistance to Roundup.

Weed resistance is "the last thing we want to happen," Morishita said. "I think we have the opportunity to try to prevent that from happening by using these tank mixes where it's appropriate."

The conference is intended primarily for producers within The Amalgamated Sugar Co. growing area of Idaho, Eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

Certified crop adviser credits and pesticide applicator recertification credits for both Idaho and Oregon will be available.

Workshop details

The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the College of Southern Idaho's Shields Building. Costs, which include lunch, are $20 for those who pre-register by Thursday, Dec. 31, and $25 at the door.

To pre-register, call Kathy Garofano or Tamie Keeth at 208-736-3600. For more information about the workshops contact Morishita at 208-736-3616 or

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