You may think you have a good handle on weed control in corn. Which are your toughest weeds? Are there weeds you don’t worry about? Should you worry about them?
Purdue University agronomists and weed control specialists realize you can’t answer these questions unless you can identify weeds properly. Corey Gerber, an agronomist and director of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center, believes weed identification is so important that, working with the Purdue Botany Department, he maintains a “weed garden” at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education, formerly known as the Purdue Agronomy Farm.
There are literally dozens of weeds grown individually within an otherwise manicured field, with each weed labeled, Gerber explains. He says the goal is to have living examples during the growing season of all major weeds in the Midwest — both those that are most problematic now and those that were more of a problem in the past. You’ll even find some weeds that aren’t so common in the garden.
Gerber and his staff use the weed garden to teach weed identification to participants in diagnostic clinics each summer. Most of the participants are agronomists or employees of retail ag businesses, but farmers are welcome at these training sessions, he notes.
The living weed exhibit is also used to train college students on weed identification, and even high school students. Purdue now sponsors a crop scouting competition for FFA teams each summer, with the winning team participating in a national competition.
Gerber’s crew does its best to make sure the weeds stay put and don’t spread on the farm. James Beatty, ACRE superintendent, wouldn’t have it any other way!
Check out the weeds pictured in the accompanying slideshow. Then come back here to check the answers below and see how many weeds you identified correctly.
Answer key: a) common teasel, b) burcucumber, c) horsenettle, d) giant ragweed, e) cocklebur, f) common waterhemp, g) jimsonweed, h) common burdock