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Check Conservation Acres for Palmer Amaranth

Palmer Amaranth has been spotted in native plantings.

Farmers with native habitat plantings or CRP acres should keep their eyes peeled for the native desert Southwest weed, Palmer amaranth, which has steadily crept throughout the Midwest. Now, with reports of discovered contaminated sources of native seed in newly-seeded CRP in Iowa, Bob Hartzler, Iowa State Extension weed specialist, is encouraging farmers who planted native mixes, CRP, or any other native planting to look for the invasive weed.

Anyone who has planted these native mixes should be examining those areas, says Hartzler.

He’s not concerned about the establishment of Palmer amaranth in the conservation habitats since it should be crowded out once native vegetation is established.

“The standard practice when establishing these native practices is mowing two to three times the first year,” says Hartzler. “Mowing won’t kill palmer amaranth, but it will limit its seed production.”

The concern is that until the native, perennial plants become established, Palmer amaranth may produce enough seed to begin moving into neighboring corn and soybean fields. If Palmer amaranth is able to creep out of conservation acres, farmers should try to eliminate it immediately. He encourages farmers to scout for Palmer amaranth and eliminate it before it goes to seed and possibly spreads to crop fields.

“Where feasible, walking the field is probably the best thing to do: Remove them physically,” says Hartzler.

Finding Palmer amaranth in native plantings is a concern, but Hartzler doesn’t want it to detour those plantings’ establishment. The companies that distributed the contaminated seed are working diligently to find the source.

“They realize it’s a serious issue,” says Hartzler. “They’re working to figure out the source and take care of the problem before this year’s seed batches go out.”

“There’s a big benefit to having these areas out in the landscape, and we’d hate to see this quash that effort,” says Hartzler.

 

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