Texas Agriculture Tries to Defend Against Super Weed
The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing an emergency request by Texas regulators to allow cotton farmers to deploy a controversial herbicide, marking a new front in the war on “super weeds” that has divided agricultural groups and environmentalists.
The Texas Department of Agriculture asked the EPA last month for an exemption to permit growers to douse fields this summer with propazine—a chemical little-used in U.S. agriculture—to control an invasive plant known as palmer amaranth, or pigweed.
Pigweed, which can grow 3 inches a day, is one of several nasty invaders that have developed resistance to the nation’s dominant weed killer, glyphosate, which is widely sold by Monsanto Co. MON +0.09%as Roundup.
Texas, at the behest of the state’s cotton growers, is asking the EPA to let farmers spray propazine, the active ingredient in the herbicide Milo-Pro, on up to 3 million acres, or nearly half of the state’s estimated cotton acreage this season. The Lone Star state is the nation’s largest cotton producer, accounting for 33% of last year’s crop, which was valued at $5.2 billion, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.