Bill Johnson, Purdue University Extension weed control specialist, talks about identifying waterhemp and Palmer amaranth and how to attack these weeds wherever he goes this winter. Johnson and his co-workers have prepared special bulletins on how to control marestail and another on how to control Palmer amaranth.
Mike Earley, an agronomist for Seed Consultants, Inc., has presented six winter meetings for customers so far. Every time he gets to the section of his talk about weed control, and shows pictures of Palmer amaranth, he sees the audience snap to attention. That's the goal, he says – to get everyone's attention so that they know that fighting this weed is not business as usual.
In fact, Earley says that while many farmers think marestail is tough to control, it will look like controlling foxtail compared to controlling Palmer amaranth.
This isn't Asian soybean rust, which got way too much publicity a few years ago, and so far, thankfully, has not become a problem in the Corn Belt. This enemy is here now.
"I talked at a field day near Washington Courthouse, Ohio, last summer," Earley begins. "An Ohio State University Extension weed control specialist was in the crowd. I impressed on people that Palmer amaranth was coming and had been found in the state. The specialist piped up and said it was only 20 miles away, in the county just south of where we were.
"On his way home he called me and said it was even closer than he thought. He spotted several Palmer amaranth plants only a mile from our field day site.
"This isn't about scaring anyone. It's about hopefully helping farmers get a jump on this weed before it is too late," Earley said.