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Smorgasbord of weeds

Expect problem plants to abound this spring

Submitted Photo Waterhemp grows in a field in this photo from North Dakota State University. The weed has made inroads into eastern North Dakota and could be a big problem for western North Dakota crop producers if it continues to migrate.

This year’s wet spring is expected to create new weed-fighting challenges for area agriculture producers as they come off a drought.

“I think we will see a smorgasbord of weeds this year with all this moisture,” said Brian Jenks, weed scientist with the North Dakota State University’s North Central Research Extension Center in Minot.

“Last year, part of the problem was we were so very dry that we didn’t really have weeds emerging until mid- to late May. In fact, it was so dry that a lot of various weed species never did emerge.”

The weed that was problematic for everyone last year was kochia.

“Kochia thrives in dry weather, and it was everywhere,” Jenks said.

“I have no doubt we’re still going to see kochia. Some of our common weeds that we see – pigweed, lambsquarters, horseweed, narrowleaf hawks beard – all those are going to be in abundance. And there are weeds that tend to show up when we get a little bit wet, too, so we might see some weeds that we typically don’t see because we are going to be so wet early.

“This is not a good year to have a shortage of herbicides because I think we will need them,” he added.

Not only can producers expect to have a harder time getting their hands on herbicide, but prices will be higher. Despite that, Jenks encourages producers not to skimp on herbicide because inadequate control fuels weed resistance. Farmers already have had trouble with certain weeds, such kochia and horseweed, which are both resistant to the herbicide Roundup.

Keeping waterhemp from spreading from the eastern part of the state will be important because effective herbicides aren’t available that are safe for western North Dakota’s pulse, sunflower, safflower and flax fields, Jenks said.

Both waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, an aggressive pigweed that recently made inroads into North Dakota, are resistant to several modes of control.

“A couple others that we are having trouble with resistance are wild oat and green foxtail. We’ve been doing testing here in the greenhouse, and a lot of the samples we’ve been testing, 50 to 80 percent have been resistant to our normal grass herbicides,” Jenks said.

Because of issues with resistance and incompatibility of some herbicides with certain crops, weed control will need to be a factor in farmers’ crop selection decisions at planting time, he said. Jenks also recommends farmers consider soil-applied herbicides before or immediately after planting in addition to regular post-emergence spraying to get the best control.

Derrill Fick, Ward County weed control officer, also noted that weed issues will be heightened at a time when supply chain issues are affecting the availability of chemicals.

“We regularly do a cost-share program for the landowners for them to acquire chemical for leafy spurge. We only have a limited supply at the current time,” he said. “We have to limit the quantity of cost-share chemical to the landowners for their control on their properties.”

Ward County’s leafy spurge beetle program isn’t as large as it was at one time, but beetles still are available for harvesting if landowners wish to use them to aid in spurge control, Fick said. Interested landowners can contact the weed control office at 852-1970 to set up a time for collection.

The office also has access to insects for other types of weeds, such as toadflax and spotted knapweed.

The weed control office can assist landowners with developing weed management plans for their pastures if they are looking for guidance, Fick said.

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