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Internship Offers First-hand Look at Devastation of Palmer Amaranth

Internship Offers First-hand Look at Devastation of Palmer Amaranth
Intern gets look at ferocious Palmer amaranth weed up close and personal

By Stacy Gudas

Prior to this summer working as an Extension education intern, I hadn't realized there was such an invasive weed species in Indiana. As the daughter of a farmer, I took an interest in this issue. The ability of this weed, Palmer amaranth, to adapt at such a fast speed is alarming.

It's primarily due to its reproductive nature. Both male and female plants contribute their adaptations to the new plants, making them more resistant to herbicides and weather conditions.

Related: Palmer Amaranth Is For Real

Seeds galore: Note the number of Palmer amaranth seeds that have fallen on the ground near a plant. The ruler provides perspective.

As harvest season approached, I felt it an appropriate time to share what I learned. To further understand Palmer amaranth and what can be done to hinder its spread, I went to the North Central Co-op in Pulaski County and shadowed Austin Matterson, an agronomist who works for the co-op.

We made a trip to a heavily infested field of soybeans with Palmer amaranth, which they have been battling all season. The resistance to herbicides has been proven as no light matter, as after even four applications to the field, the plant is still able to bounce back. Even if lying horizontal, it will begin to grow stems vertically.

In the coffee shop, it is known as Palmer pigweed. In university circles, it is referred to as Palmer amaranth. Whatever you want to call it, this weed is the No. 1 weed to watch. Stay on top of your control plan with our new free report, Palmer Amaranth: Understanding the Profit Siphon in your Field.

As we walked through the infested soybean field, Matterson pointed out treated plants.

Palmer amaranth has the ability to produce 1.2 million seeds on just one plant. To provide a comparison to how overruling this weed is, Matterson did a quick calculation of corn to Palmer Amaranth seeds.

It takes about 1,875 corn plants in standard production to meet the seed capacity of just one Palmer Amaranth plant. In other words, one Palmer amaranth plant, given plenty of room to grow, could produce as many 'babies' potentially as 1,875 corn plants.

That's a lot of potential new Palmer amaranth plants for next season.

Stacy Gudas is in the Purdue University Ag Communications capstone class

TAGS: Soybeans
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