Stop Palmer Amaranth Before it’s in Your Backyard

Photo: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Keeley Overmyer, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Throughout our class discussion on invasive species, one species keeps coming to mind: palmer amaranth. I continually think of palmer amaranth because a grower, that is one of our constant thoughts. Will palmer amaranth make it to my part of Ohio? Will I have to battle it for years to come?

Palmer amaranth is an Amaranthus species and is in the same family as weeds such as water hemp and redroot pigweed. It has begun making it its way from the South to many areas throughout the Midwest. Palmer amaranth is a very problematic weed, and invasive species, that many growers are concerned about.

Like many other invasive species, palmer amaranth is characterized by its fast growth and ability to rapidly reproduce. Female plants can produce 100,000 to 500,000 thousand seeds. The plant has adapted well to a wide variety of growing conditions and it has a broad window of emergence. Once emerged, palmer can grow up to 3 inches per day.

Palmer amaranth greatly reduces the yield of any crop.

Not only is palmer amaranth an invasive species with unfavorable characteristics, but it is also resistant to herbicides including glyphosate (one of the most commonly used herbicides). This make prevention only that much more important.

Prevention includes sanitation to avoid the spread of palmer, good cultural practices, and removal of plants. Palmer amaranth was spotted in my county and was brought there by a piece of machinery that was bought out of state and was not cleaned before being brought into Ohio. There was still palmer amaranth seed on the machinery.

It is also important to educate the public on the potentially devastating effects that palmer can have. Educating the public is important to bring awareness to the techniques to prevent the spread of palmer amaranth.

My family is fearful of palmer amaranth like many other growers, but we need work together to prevent this invasive species from overtaking our farms and reducing our yields.

Resources:

https://u.osu.edu/osuweeds/files/2016/01/Palmer-fact-2016-18np83k.pdf

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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