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Pest Management Implications of Glyphosate-Resistant Wheat (Triticum aestivum) in the Western United States

  • Drew J. Lyon (a1), Alvin J. Bussan (a2), John O. Evans (a3), Carol A. Mallory-Smith (a4) and Thomas F. Peeper (a5)...


Glyphosate-resistant crop species have increased in number over the past decade as growers eagerly adopt this simple and effective weed management technology. Glyphosate-resistant wheat cultivars are being developed and may soon be available to growers. The objective of this paper is to discuss the pest management implications of glyphosate-resistant wheat in the western United States, a region stretching from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean that produces more than 80% of the nation's wheat crop. The benefits of glyphosate-resistant wheat include: (1) improved weed control, particularly of difficult-to-control weeds, such as winter annual grasses belonging to the Aegilops, Avena, Bromus, Lolium, Poa, Secale, and Setaria genera; (2) an ability to control weeds resistant to currently available wheat herbicides; (3) an extended application window for control of late-emerging weeds; and (4) improved crop safety. Although these benefits are not to be minimized, they need to be considered in the light of the concerns surrounding this new technology in wheat. These concerns are about (1) the lack of an equally effective and affordable herbicide to control glyphosate-resistant volunteer wheat, which may increase wheat diseases such as wheat streak mosaic and Rhizoctonia root rot; (2) the possibility that overreliance on glyphosate will lead to species shifts, with unknown consequences for weed management in wheat; and (3) the use of multiple glyphosate-resistant crops in rotation with glyphosate-resistant wheat, which could rapidly increase glyphosate-resistant weeds, thereby limiting the future utility of glyphosate. If, or when, glyphosate-resistant wheat becomes commercially available, it will require careful management to sustain its usefulness. We have proposed several areas of research that we feel are critical to help develop sound management guidelines for deployment and use of this new weed management technology in wheat. These include (1) developing effective “green bridge” management strategies, i.e., using cultural and chemical approaches to control plants that sustain insect vector populations between wheat crop periods; (2) predicting potential weed species shifts resulting from the use of glyphosate-resistant wheat; and (3) developing management systems that include herbicide-resistant wheat on a rotational basis and rotating the use of glyphosate with other weed management strategies in the fallow period to minimize the potential development of glyphosate-resistant weeds or weed communities.


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