Prairie wild oat action committee in action

A request was made to the Canadian Weed Science Society by a few Alberta-based farmers to form a wild oat action committee to focus on the problem of herbicide-resistant wild oats.

An ad-hoc committee of 12 people was formed, with producer, scientist, extension staff, industry and agronomist representation. They aim to raise awareness of the problem and to identify gaps in research.

“There used to be a wild oat action committee that ran from 1972 to 1983 that spurred research into the wild oat biology,” said chair of the new committee Eric Johnson.

“What we know about seed dormancy and the biology of wild oat was really learned in that time period.”

The original committee had a research and an extensions component, which developed a handbook that was distributed to farmers.

But then new, more effective herbicides were released to the market and the committee dissolved because the wild oat problem was solved for a few years.

The new committee, called the Resistant Wild Oat Action Committee, also has two sub committees, a research committee as well as an extension and education committee.

Agriculture Canada research scientist Breanne Tidemann is on the committee and said herbicide-resistant wild oats is becoming an greater issue for many farmers

“I got a call from an agronomist in January asking me to speak to some of his customers because there are a number of them that, essentially they don’t have in-crop herbicides left anymore in cereals and pulses,” Tidemann said.

“In canola, you still have your glyphosate and your glufosinate, and usually the Group 1 in canola is still active, but Australia just reported glyphosate resistant wild oats this year.”

She said farms where their Group 1 and Group 2 herbicides no longer work on the wild oat population must rely on soil-applied herbicides, which are not as easy to use or as consistent.

She said there may never be a silver bullet to address herbicide-resistant wild oat and there are few new herbicide options in the pipeline. A goal of the committee is find more strategies for producers to use.

The Resistant Wild Oat Action Committee has a Twitter account @RWildOat, and for information on its 2020 annual meeting that will be held online Nov. 23-26 can be found at

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