Weed. It's one of the biggest four-letter words in this industry — and it's been known to provoke turf managers to spout a few of their own, as well. Like it or not, controlling weed infestations make up a big part of your job. Thankfully, you have an arsenal of control products that you can use in conjunction with cultural practices to control them. If you can identify the weed, there's usually a product on the shelf that can help control it. With so many options available to combat what seems to be every conceivable weed/pest problem, you might think that chemical companies are satisfied to sit back and reflect on an already-profitable line of products, but you'd be wrong. They are, in fact, re-investing a portion of those profits into creating the next big thing.

According to Joe DiPaola, golf market manager for Syngenta, researchers are always working to discover new active ingredients. Finding one is a long and expensive process. If you started it today, it would take you until 2013 and cost $120 million to discover, develop and bring a new product to the marketplace. “And the decision for ‘go’ or ‘no go’ doesn't even come until the six-year mark,” says DiPaola. At six years, you're still in the development phase, which is only the second step (discovery is first) in a 14-step process, and have spent millions already. “Out of 200 active ingredients a year, only three to five get to that stage. One or two will go to market,” he says. “It's a game of odds, but you want lots of possibilities.”

For a complete list of the active ingredients that have made it into this highly-competitive market for weed control, check out the first in our annual series of Chemical Updates. “Turfgrass Herbicides” begins on page 39, and is your tool for matching chemical solutions to your weed problems. It brings you the most up-to-date and complete guide to products registered for turf and landscape ornamentals. We'll publish subsequent Updates throughout 2004, covering insecticides, fungicides, fertilizer/pesticide combinations, plant growth regulators and nonselective chemicals.

But before you consult the Chemical Update and quickly reach for a weed solution, take a minute to consider why you may be having a weed problem. Certain weeds are indicative of cultural system breakdowns when they are the predominate plants in the area. Tom Watschke, Ph.D., encourages you to take a holistic approach to dealing with turf problems in this month's cover story, “A New Approach,” beginning on page 12.

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