© 2016 Society of Chemical IndustryBACKGROUND: Weeds can be a greater constraint to crop production than animal pests and pathogens. Pre-emergence herbicides are crucial in many cropping systems to control weeds that have evolved resistance to selective post-emergence herbicides. In this study we assessed the potential to evolve resistance to the pre-emergence herbicides prosulfocarb + S-metolachlor or pyroxasulfone in 50 individual field Lolium rigidum populations collected in a random survey in Western Australia prior to commercialisation of these pre-emergence herbicides. RESULTS: This study shows for the first time that in randomly collected L. rigidum field populations the selection with either prosulfocarb + S-metolachlor or pyroxasulfone can result in concomitant evolution of resistance to both prosulfocarb + S-metolachlor and pyroxasulfone after three generations. CONCLUSIONS: In the major weed L. rigidum, traits conferring resistance to new herbicides can be present before herbicide commercialisation. Proactive and multidisciplinary research (evolutionary ecology, modelling and molecular biology) is required to detect and analyse resistant populations before they can appear in the field. Several studies show that evolved cross-resistance in weeds is complex and often unpredictable. Thus, long-term management of cross-resistant weeds must be achieved through heterogeneity of selection by effective chemical, cultural and physical weed control strategies that can delay herbicide resistance evolution. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.