Navigation Links
Palmer amaranth threatens Midwest farm economy, researchers report
Date:6/3/2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. An invasive weed that has put some southern cotton farmers out of business is now finding its way across the Midwest and many corn and soybean growers don't yet appreciate the threat, University of Illinois researchers report.

Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), a flowering plant native to the Sonoran desert and southwest United States, has a laundry list of traits that make it a fierce competitor on the farm, said Aaron Hager, a University of Illinois crop sciences professor.

Palmer amaranth germinates throughout much of the growing season, starts earlier and grows faster than other weeds, and is a prolific seed producer, Hager said. It can tolerate drought and heat extremes that would kill other plants. And it is becoming resistant to the most common herbicides used to combat it, he said.

Killing the plant before it can go to seed is the best way to control it, he said. That means treating young plants with herbicides when they are less than 4 inches tall.

"Once it is taller than 4 inches, the effectiveness of herbicide treatments drops off very dramatically and very quickly," Hager said.

Catching the plant that early is problematic, however. As a seedling, Palmer amaranth looks a lot like waterhemp, another problematic weed that is difficult to control. This means farmers have the dual challenge of determining whether Palmer has invaded their fields and, if it has, taking effective action to kill it before it takes over.

"In other parts of the U.S., this species has devastated cotton production and in many areas, especially in Georgia, it was not uncommon to see cotton fields literally mowed down to prevent this weed from producing seed," Hager said. Some growers who failed to recognize the threat lost their farms as a result, he said.

Preventing a Palmer amaranth takeover also comes at a cost, however. In 2010, for example, Southeast Farm Press reported that the cost of weed control efforts on Georgia farms had risen from $25 per acre to $60 to $100 an acre in response to Palmer amaranth invasions. The state spent at least $11 million in 2009 to manually remove Palmer amaranth from 1 million acres of cotton, "something not normally done," the magazine reported.

Adam Davis, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and a professor of crop sciences at the U. of I., reported at a recent agricultural conference that Palmer amaranth can reduce soybean yields by 78 percent and corn yields by 91 percent. Illinois, a state with a $9 billion agricultural commodities market and 80 percent of its land area devoted to farming (mostly corn and soybeans), could see significant losses associated with fighting or failing to properly fight this weed, Hager said.

"If you think about the value of agronomic row crops in this state, that's why we're very, very concerned about how devastating this could be to us," he said.

So far, researchers have confirmed the presence of Palmer amaranth in more than two dozen Illinois counties, from the southern tip of the state to Will County, about 50 miles south of downtown Chicago. In about half of those counties, the weed is already resistant to glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide on Midwest farms, Hager said.

The plant grows so quickly and so tall that it can completely obscure low-growing crop plants. Some soybean fields in Kankakee County, Illinois, became so overgrown with Palmer amaranth that the soybeans were barely visible to the eye.

Many farmers think they can use the same techniques that tend to work against other common weeds a onetime application of glyphosate herbicide, for example to control Palmer amaranth, Hager said. This assumption could endanger their farms.

"There is not one magic herbicide that a farmer could use one time and be done with it," he said. "It doesn't work that way."

And if the weed gains a foothold in planted fields, corn and soybean growers in Illinois should take a tip from Georgia cotton farmers and do everything possible to remove the plants, he said. Not a single plant should be tolerated.

"We have to set the threshold at zero. It has to be zero," Hager said. "It's hard to imagine another weed species that would be more injurious to crop production than what this one will be."


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Climate change threatens to worsen US ozone pollution
2. Lack of breeding threatens blue-footed boobies survival
3. Environment change threatens indigenous know-how
4. Poaching threatens savannah ecosystems
5. Smithsonian reports GMO soybean pollen threatens Mexican honey sales
6. Climate change threatens genetic diversity, future of worlds caribou
7. Harvard study shows sprawl threatens water quality, climate protection, and land conservation gains
8. Spread of crop pests threatens global food security as Earth warms
9. Conflict threatens global nutrition progress, new report warns
10. Fox invasion threatens wave of extinction, UC research finds
11. Climate change threatens giant pandas bamboo buffet -- and survival
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Palmer amaranth threatens Midwest farm economy, researchers report
(Date:6/27/2019)... ... ... Lighting designers from integrated design firm LPA recently earned two ... both engaging and energy efficient lighting systems. , The lighting for the repositioning of ... California earned an IES Illumination Award of Merit in the Energy and Environment category. ...
(Date:6/20/2019)... ... 19, 2019 , ... The half-million dollars in Alzheimer’s disease ... and the possibly millions of dollars of “high priority” grants now offered by ... “welcome affirmation” of the need to investigate more thoroughly the possible roles of ...
(Date:6/16/2019)... (PRWEB) , ... June 14, 2019 , ... ... Americans invited to lecture at the fifth annual Neodent World Congress. Attended by ... the innovative progress and latest advancements in the world of dentistry. The three-day ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/15/2019)... FALLS, Wis. (PRWEB) , ... May 16, 2019 ... ... oil and water mixtures. As a result, food and beverage products rely on ... today, consumers demand more natural sounding label declarations. This paradigm shift triggers food ...
(Date:5/14/2019)... ... May 14, 2019 , ... Gateway Genomics , a leading developer ... from 2,500 to 5,000 square feet. , “This past year has seen exponential ... Gateway Genomics CEO, Chris Jacob. “The SneakPeek At-Home test, which is mailed directly to ...
(Date:5/7/2019)... , ... May 06, 2019 , ... ... resource for the growing number of repositories being asked to store cellular products ... to the team of contributors who are world leaders, who have shared their ...
(Date:5/4/2019)... ... May 03, 2019 , ... Diopsys Inc, the world leader ... Response vision test, a new full field electroretinography (ffERG) protocol designed to ... million Americans will have glaucoma, with black Americans having the highest prevalence rate. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: