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What to Do About Palmer Amaranth in Corn Fields

What to Do About Palmer Amaranth in Corn Fields
Here are 5 tips from an agronomist who fights Palmer Amaranth continuously.

By Stacy Gudas and Tom J. Bechman

As harvest began this fall and Palmer amaranth was visible in many fields, especially in soybean fields in northern Indiana, Austin Matterson walked fields. He's an agronomist with North Central Co-op, based in Pulaski County.

Matterson offers advice for helping get a handle on this weed. Palmer amaranth worked its way into northern Indiana just a few seasons ago, likely riding trucks north from the Deep South in cottonseed meal for dairy cattle.

Tough customer: Palmer amaranth plants are out of control once they're four inches tall in most cases. Here are plants in soybeans late in the season.

For farmers battling Palmer amaranth, Matterson's recommendation is to seek local and professional specialists for assistance in beginning a program for your fields. The key is to be consistent, he says. Starting and stopping a program can harm it further.

Another thing to remember is to start with clean fields, and make sure they stay clean of Palmer amaranth. It's why some people, now even in northern Indiana, hire workers before harvest to walk fields and remove individual plants, so they won't go through the combine, risking the spread of seeds over more land.

The steps to follow during harvest that Matterson suggests include:

1. If you see a plant, stop the combine and remove the plant.

2. In small infestations, remove the plant by placing a trash bag over it, pulling a zip tie around the bottom of the bag and then pulling it out of the ground to prevent seed shatter. After this, burn the plant somewhere outside of the field where you found it.

3. After season, moldboard plow the field. By turning the soil 10" under, the seed will be unable to germinate. (Editor's note: There are varying opinions over this strategy.)

Then next spring, Matterson suggests following these steps.

1. Begin the suggested program from your specialist. It will likely include residual herbicides.

2. On no till, do a burn down application followed by residual herbicides.

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.

Gudas is a student in Purdue University Ag Communication's capstone class.

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