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NDSU student's sugarbeet weed control project expands access to effective herbicide
The research of North Dakota State University graduate student Emma Burt paved the way for an emergency exemption that allowed sugarbeet producers to control water hemp in their 2021 crop with an herbicide previously used on soybeans.
Peters, whose role with Extension includes weed control in sugarbeets in North Dakota, Minnesota and eastern Montana, for the past nine years has worked to control pigweed species, including water hemp. Through Peters’ weed research, which involved screening herbicides used for non-sugarbeet crops, he learned that Ultra Blazer showed promise for water help control in sugarbeets.
Ultra Blazer was a popular herbicide for broadleaf weed control in soybeans during the 1990s, Peters said.
After screening Ultra Blazer for use in sugarbeets , Peters turned over the project to Burt, who studied and reported on the results of her project over Zoom meetings to sugarbeet cooperative representatives from across the United States for about a year.
During one of the Zoom meetings Burt had with the sugarbeet cooperatives, a cooperative administrator suggested that Ultra Blazer’s label should be approved for sugarbeets, Peters said.
In early 2021, Peters applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for an emergency exemption of Ultra Blazer, citing the poor control of other herbicides, which rely on rainfall for activation, during the 2020 dry growing season.
As it turned out, the 2021 growing season was even drier than the previous year’s.
“It further substantiated the problem we had in 2020,” Peters said.
“In May we went to the EPA and we said ‘We made this application and it's worse than we thought it would be.'"
Ultra Blazer offers the most effective control of water hemp when the water hemp is 6 inches or shorter and the sugarbeets have six or more leaves, Peters said.
After hearing of the exemptions in those two states, Nebraska, Colorado and Michigan also applied for and received emergency exemptions to use Ultra Blazer to control weeds in sugarbeets in those states.
Peters believes that the work of Burt resulted in the first emergency exemption for sugarbeets grown in North Dakota and Minnesota in the history of the crop.
“Emma’s master’s degree work is really the basis for these special labels that EPA has awarded sugarbeet growers,” he said.
"UPL, the manufacturer of Ultra Blazer, is working to get the herbicide’s label approved for sugarbeet weed control," Peters said.
Burt, who is working as a research agronomist at a Minnesota sugarbeet cooperative, will graduate with her master’s degree in May 2022.
© 420 Intel
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