Glyphosate-resistant weed spreads to Canada crop belt

Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:10pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A weed resistant to a widely used chemical to protect crops has spread for the first time to Western Canada, the country's grain and canola belt.

Kochia weed turned up in three fields in Southern Alberta last August, despite the use of glyphosate, and Canadian government scientists have now confirmed that it is resistant to the farm chemical, seed company Monsanto Canada said on Wednesday.

So-called "super weeds" have defied dosages of the world's top-selling herbicide, Monsanto's Roundup, and spread through key crop-growing areas of the United States in recent years, boosting costs and cutting crop yields for farmers.

Roundup's active ingredient is glyphosate.

"That is one of the chemicals that has been so broadly used that this will be a growing issue that we have to face," said Ron Frost, a Calgary, Alberta-based agriculture analyst.

Kochia has previously been confirmed in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, and suspected cases are under investigation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

The southern Alberta case is unique because it does not appear to have developed in a field where farmers regularly grew Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically modified to tolerate Monsanto's weed-killing herbicide, the company said.

The fields were left fallow last year to replenish soil nutrients, and chemicals were used to control weeds.   Continued...