Weeds: the biggest threat to SA’s crop production

The impact of weeds on crop production is often underestimated, despite the fact that it is the world’s biggest threat to crop production.

Weeds: the biggest threat to SA’s crop production
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The impact of weeds on crop production is often underestimated, despite the fact that it is the world’s biggest threat to crop production.

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This was according to Leonard Oberholzer, the head of technology in South Africa at Bayer Crop Science.

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Speaking at the recent 2019 Bayer Create Conference in Bothaville, Oberholzer said it was vital that producers continuously monitored their croplands to prevent weeds from developing resistance to herbicides.

He added that across the globe weed resistance had started to increase rapidly since 2000, and that the world could be faced with a situation in which all weeds became resistant to herbicides by 2050, if the current trend continued.

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In South Africa, 14 weed species were resistant to one or more active ingredients in herbicides. These included weeds such as Conyza Bonariensis and Plantago Lanceolata.

“These weeds [have been treated with] glyphosate, mainly in the Western Cape, for many years, and [this has] resulted in the [development of] resistance,” Oberholzer said.

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Glyphosate is applied to the leaves of plants to kill broadleaf plants and grasses. The herbicide was first registered for use in the US in 1974, and has since then caused much controversy.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.