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Weed seeds in soybeans impact trade markets

By Justin Walker

Weed seeds are a growing concern in U.S. soybean exports.

A surge in herbicide-resistant weeds has brought attention to potential weed seeds in outgoing soybean shipments, according to Dr. Lee Van Wychen, executive director for Science Policy at the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA).

“This issue has been growing steadily over the years,” he said. “A lot of it can be contributed to herbicide-resistant weed seeds, but now that we are in a trade war era, these weeds seeds that are in the crop—while they’re not necessarily a health risk from a trade stand point—they are an environmental risk.”

Farmers in other countries aren’t looking to accept grain shipments with these issues, Van Wychen said. Importing countries are taking steps to help prevent their farmers from dealing with them.

When weed seeds are detected in imports, additional inspections could be enforced by the county, or the shipment may be rejected or destroyed. Reoccurring detections could result in suspension or closure of a trade market.

To protect these export deals, Van Wychen said farm strategies need to change.

“We need good management,” he said. “It’s been frustrating.”

Weed seeds remain an issue due to failure to adapt new strategies, Van Wychen said.

Diversifying management practices is important for farmers and ranchers, because it helps eliminate existing weeds and discourages the buildup of any one weed type.

Tips for reducing weed seeds in soybean crops are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and WSSA.

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