Palmer amaranth is undoubtedly the most troublesome weed in the southern United States, taking a devastating toll on both cotton and soybean crops.  Unfortunately, it is also on the move.  With reports that Palmer amaranth is now making its way into the Midwest Farm Belt, questions are being raised about the potential impact on agriculture.

Researchers authoring an article in the most recent edition of the journal Weed Science say the threat is real.  They have found that Palmer amaranth has the potential to reduce crop yields in the Midwest, just as it has in the South. 

“Our research shows there are no genetic or environmental factors to keep Palmer amaranth from competing with crops and reducing yields in northern geographies,” says Adam Davis, an ecologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and one of the authors of the Weed Science article.  “The only limiting factor is the migration rate of its seeds.”

The authors say it is critical that anyone involved in agriculture learn how to identify Palmer amaranth and act promptly to remove it when it is found – hopefully before it sets seed and spreads.

Full text of the article, “Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) Damage Niche in Illinois Soybean Is Seed Limited” is now available in Weed Science Vol. 63, Issue 3, July-September, 2015.