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Are Superweeds Coming North?

by Ken Root

Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and other weeds clog a soybean field in northern Illinois.
Palmer amaranth

In the last growing season, many farmers noted some weeds that were resistant to herbicides. There are four major species of weeds that have “broken the code” if you will, and become resistant to almost every registered product designed to kill them.

The battle is not lost but the ease of spraying Round up over the top one time, is over. Glyphosate has been used so extensively in the past 20 years that many weeds have a range from tolerance to resistance from it.

One weed species, called Palmer Amaranth, can become a ten foot tall tree in one season and put out 1 million seeds. Even its pollen spreads resistance to other plants.

However, it can be controlled if you start early in the spring.

Dr. Wesley Everman is originally from Decorah, Iowa. He is now a well respected weed scientist at North Carolina State in Raleigh.

“It’s a weed that we need to be aware of and learn some lessons from. Whether or not it’s going to be the boogie man that comes out of the closet and is everyone’s worst nightmare is yet to be seen. It is a weed that is very prolific seed production, develops resistance quickly, and has been spreading across the country,” said Everman.

He explained that the key to success is, “Mixing things up. manage them differently, don’t rely on a single method over and over. Use multiple modes of action.”

Thanks to Syngenta for allowing the interview after the Resistance Fighter Meeting in Springfield, Ill.