More than three decades of walking rice fields have given Michael Waligura the perspective and experience his grower-customers value.
Waligura, a retailer-consultant with Helena Agri-Enterprises in Garwood, Texas, was recently recognized as a 2020 Consultant of Distinction by Corteva Agriscience and Rice Farming magazine.
“A lot of my customers are friends, and I enjoy helping my friends. They count on me helping them,” he says. “More than customers, they are friends. We work as a team.”
Waligura began working in agriculture in 1976. A classmate’s father owned Garwood Implement & Supply and offered Waligura a job. He joined the company in January 1976 and never looked back.
“We had a lawn and garden section, a feed dealership, and sold animal health supplies and crop protection products,” he says. “I began doing field checking shortly after joining and began consulting on my own in 1980.”
When Helena took over the business, and the building, in 2008, Waligura stayed.
“I enjoy being where I am, and my long-term clients are why I’m still here,” he says.
Today, Waligura consults primarily rice and pasture production, with some corn and milo acreage in the mix.
Waligura’s rice weed control recommendations differ by individual fields. “You play the cards dealt to you with land, weather and weeds,” he says. “Field checking and timing are important to understanding the situation for each field.”
Often, Waligura’s preseason recommendation includes a tank mix of Command 3ME herbicide, Grounded-W deposition aid and glyphosate to start the year clean.
“In some fields, depending on timing or weather conditions, or if it is a freshly land-formed field, I may go with Command and Clincher SF herbicides after emergence of rice and weeds,” he says. “If we’ve got wet to muddy soils, Clincher is the only tool that will pick up sprangletop if you didn’t spray Command.”
Pre-flood recommendations include a tank mix of Regiment herbicide and Grandstand® R herbicide if alligatorweed is an issue. Permit and Loyant® herbicides are often tank-mixed if targeting broadleaf weeds such as pigweed, alligatorweed, Texasweed and hemp sesbania (coffeebean).
“If you put Loyant out there, within three hours of application, you can start to see it controlling the hemp sesbania,” he says.
To be a successful consultant, Waligura says, you’ve got to love farming, and he does.
“I’m not a farmer, but I enjoy helping produce farmers’ crops,” he says. “I appreciate the trust my growers give me to work for them and help produce their crops. It means a lot that they continue to value my opinion and recommendations.”
Clincher® SF, Grandstand® R and Loyant® are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.