Growers from across the Finger Lakes and Central New York gathered recently for the 2023 Soybean & Small Grains Congress, hosted by CCE’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Program. The events allowed participants to earn DEC recertification points and Certified Crop Adviser credits while hearing about the latest research in weed control, yield promotion and sustainable agriculture both from Cornell as well as other organizations, including Michigan State University, the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Rural Affairs and Kansas State University.

Kicking off the day’s presentations, emcee Mike Stanyard, Ph.D. and field crops specialist for the CCE Northwest New York, introduced Vipan Kumar, a newly appointed associate professor at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science Soil and Crop Sciences Section (or “weed scientist,” as the agenda noted).

Previously, Kumar served as assistant professor of weed science at the Kansas State Agricultural Research Center in Hays, KS. He earned his B.S. from Punjab Agricultural University, his M.S. from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. from Montana State University.

At Kansas State, Kumar’s research program studied the biology and ecology of troublesome weeds and developing integrated weed management programs for farmers. His work has included characterizing herbicide resistance of glyphosate, dicamba, fluroxypyr and ALS inhibitors, and strategies for management including chemical, crop location, row spacing, crop seeding rates and tillage. He’s also studied herbicide-resistant kochia in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas; glyphosate-resistant pigweed in Kansas; and Palmer amaranth in Kansas.

“We need to change our weed control practices,” Kumar said.

He said integrated weed management should include a variety of approaches: mechanical, cultural, chemical and precision ag, not just one or two of these.

One of the strategies he has researched is harvesting or destroying weeds before they go to seed to help control them. Another is using attachments on combines to destroy weed seeds during harvest. Planting among green cover crops and waiting two weeks to terminate covers represents another strategy which both suppresses weeds and also makes more biomass available. Flame weeding and zapping weeds with an electrical current are among other weed control strategies.

“Are these technologies economical and sustainable?” Kumar inquired.

His question resonated throughout the rest of the conference as presenters spoke about effective, affordable means of mitigating and minimizing diseases in small grains and soybeans; maximizing wheat yields through better management; precision use of pesticides; and controlling problematic weeds like marestail.

Soybean & Small Grains Congress 2023

Mike Stanyard (L) acknowledged Gary Bergstrom for his 30 years’ service at Cornell and his upcoming retirement in June. Photo by Deborah J. Sergeant

Stanyard acknowledged the retirement of Gary Bergstrom, plant pathologist with Cornell University, who often speaks about plant disease research for Cornell. Bergstrom presented a program at the Congress. He has worked at Cornell for 30 years and will conclude his career on June 30, 2023. In honor of his years of service, Stanyard presented Bergstrom with a plaque and led a round of applause.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant