GOSHEN, Ind. — Last week, I had a chance to hear Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension Weed Specialist, talk about potential herbicide shortages in 2022 and some ideas he has to mitigate those shortages.
The shortages seem to be the result of several issues all coming together at once. There is a shortage of inert ingredients, the carriers and additives that, when mixed with the herbicide’s active ingredients, make the whole package work. Many of the ingredients are manufactured overseas, and transportation shortages, both on the high seas and our highways, are preventing the ingredients from getting to their destination. And there is a shortage of labor to unload the docks once the ships arrive at port.
The two most impacted ingredients are those used in Liberty (glufosinate) and Roundup (glyphosate), which also happen to be two of the more popular products in terms of volume.
What can you do to soften the blow? First, contact your normal supplier, and see what they are being told. Several people in the discussion were saying that the suppliers are being told they might receive 80% of the normal volume. If that’s the case, you may need to build a herbicide program for 20% or more of your acreage that does not involve your first choice of products.
A good strategy may be to map out in which fields you will plan to use specific products, based on the weeds in each field, taking into consideration if you are using any herbicide resistant genetics in the field. Select the top three broadleaf and grass weed problems in those fields, and build a control program around those weeds.
Ironically, that is the herbicide selection process we used before we became so reliant on glyphosate.
As you search for alternatives, the weed control guides produced by University Extension and Industry can become your most important tool for planning your herbicide purchases. To access the Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, follow this link https://extensionpubs.osu.edu/2022-weed-control-guide-for-ohio-indiana-and-illinois/. The 2022 version of the Weed Guide should be out relatively soon.
All these shortages are already affecting prices too. Glyphosate, typically around $10/gallon, is already near $60 and rumored to go as high as $80. There is even talk the price may vary dependent upon the load, similar to the way fuel prices vary at the gas pump. The bottom line is, you do not want to wait until April to have a conversation with your suppliers.
— Jeff Burbrink, Extension Educator, Purdue Extension Elkhart County