AmericanFarm.com

New Extension weed specialist addresses NRV cattle producers

By JANE W. GRAHAM
AFP Correspondent

BLACKSBURG , Va. (March 24, 2015) —Members of the New River Valley Cattle Producers Association got to meet one of the newer members of the Virginia Tech Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science here during a spring meeting March 17.
Dr. Michael Flessner, assistant professor in the department, introduced himself to the group with an overview of weed control or weed management during a dinner meeting of the group at the Alpine-Stuart Arena on the Virginia Tech campus.
Flessner who earned his doctorate in crop, soil and environmental sciences from Auburn University last year joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech in August of 2014.
He holds a master’s degree in agronomy and soils from Auburn and a Bachelor of Science degree in plant sciences from the University of Tennessee as well.
Flessner pointed out to the gathering that weeds reduce forage quantity and quality as well as longevity. He prefers to use the term “weed management” rather than “weed control” in dealing with weeds. For him, the first tool in managing or controlling weeds is to know the fields a person is working to rid of weeds.
Virginia Tech reports that the new weed scientist’s “research program focuses on solving weed management challenges currently facing the Commonwealth, with emphasis placed on sustainable and economic solutions.
Herbicide resistant weeds are one such challenge that must be met with strong, proactive approaches to weed management.”
Two such projects he will be studying are cover crops for weed management and herbicide resistant weed management.
During the meeting Flessner reviewed some of the latest data on some of the herbicides that are currently being used or that have been used in weed management.
He discussed the best times for herbicide application for several different species of weeds and explained why these work better during one season than another. He also predicted changes are coming in some of the information that will be available to farmers in the labeling of the products.
“Herbicide resistant weeds are a serious threat to agricultural productivity in Virginia. Both the quantity of weed species with herbicide resistance and the number of herbicides to which resistance occurs has been increasing and is projected to increase,” the university noted in introducing Flessner to the farming population he will serve.
His research is expected to look into the challenges this is causing. He mentioned several possibilities that included mowing.
Other possibilities listed in his web site description include “mechanical weed seed destruction at harvest, rotation of herbicide-tolerant seed traits to effectively rotate mechanisms-of-action, cover crops and evaluation of alternative herbicides.”
While he did not talk about cover crops for weed control, he is expected to be studying how these might help fight weeds.
Flessner can be reached by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 540-231-2910.