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University of Illinois Extension serving Christian, Jersey, Macoupin and Montgomery Counties

Montgomery County
#1 Industrial Park Dr.
Hillsboro, IL 62049
Phone: 217-532-3941
FAX: 217-532-3944
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

Christian County
1120 N Webster St.
Taylorville, IL 62568
Phone: 217-287-7246
FAX: 217-287-7248
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 11:30 am; 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Jersey County
201 W. Exchange St.
Suite A
Jerseyville, IL 62052
Phone: 618-498-2913
FAX: 618-498-5913
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4 pm and Thursday 8 am to 12 pm

Macoupin County
#60 Carlinville Plaza
Carlinville, IL 62626
Phone: 217-854-9604
FAX: 217-854-7804
Hours: Monday - Thursday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

News Release

Postemergence options for waterhemp control in soybean

Source: Aaron Hager,, (217) 333-4424

News writer: Lauren Quinn,, (217) 300-2435


URBANA, Ill. – Waterhemp is one of the most widespread and troublesome broadleaf weed species with which Illinois farmers must contend. Factors related to the species’ biology, such as prolonged germination and emergence, obligate outcrossing, and high seed production, contribute to management challenges. The evolution of herbicide resistance in Illinois waterhemp populations adds another very challenging obstacle for effective management.


“The topic of poor waterhemp control has constituted every phone call and email in the last week,” says University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager.


Hager explains that prior to the evolution of herbicide resistance in waterhemp, ALS-, PPO-, EPSPS- and GS-inhibiting herbicides controlled waterhemp postemergence in soybean. Resistance to ALS-inhibiting herbicides (such as Raptor and Classic), first confirmed in Illinois during the mid-1990s, has become so widespread that this class of herbicides is largely considered functionally ineffective against waterhemp. Resistance to PPO-inhibiting herbicides (such as Flexstar, Cobra, and Ultra Blazer) was first identified in Adams County in 2001, and the first instance of resistance to the EPSPS-inhibiting herbicide glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) was confirmed in Fayette County in 2006. To date, no instance of waterhemp resistance to the GS-inhibiting herbicide glufosinate (Liberty, Interline, Cheetah) has been reported.


“The range of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp has expanded from 2006 to 2016, with resistant populations in almost every county last year,” Hager says. “The data used to track the distribution of glyphosate resistant were based on samples submitted to U of I for resistance verification with molecular marker assays.”


Waterhemp resistant to PPO inhibitors has been documented widely across the state as of 2015, as well. Hager points out that resistant populations could exist even if there has not been documentation of a resistant population in a particular county. “A better interpretation is simply that we have yet to test a positive sample from those counties. In other words, it is altogether likely resistance to glyphosate and PPO inhibitors occurs in all Illinois counties,” he says.


Waterhemp resistant to PPO-inhibiting herbicides can be controlled with glyphosate, and glyphosate-resistant waterhemp can be controlled by PPO-inhibiting herbicides. However, there are no effective herbicide options to control waterhemp resistant to both glyphosate and PPO inhibitors in conventional or glyphosate-resistant soybean varieties. As mentioned previously, ALS-inhibiting herbicides are ineffective, and 2,4-DB will not improve control.


“Inter-row cultivation or hand removal represent two options to control multiple-resistant waterhemp,” Hager says.


According to Hager, it remains very unlikely that a herbicide with a novel site of action will be commercialized in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the frequency of multiple resistant waterhemp will only increase.


“Many eagerly anticipate the ability to apply 2,4-D or dicamba to new herbicide-resistant soybean varieties, but the long-term utility of these herbicides to control multiple-resistant waterhemp will be compromised without thoughtful and implemented stewardship practices,” Hager notes.


For more details, visit The Bulletin at



Local Contact: Gary Letterly, Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship,