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View from the Cab: Nature's Menace

A field of weeds is shown in McLean County last week / CIFN photo

Weeds…can’t live with them and I think we could live without them.

If you have driven around the countryside recently, it is easy to spot fields full of weeds. Some are purple while others are green and yellow. Since it has been so wet as of late, it has been difficult to get into those fields to take care of the weed problems.

One of the major pests I have noticed in the area this spring is henbit. Wikipedia says this is a species of Lamium, which is native to Europe, Asia and northern parts of Africa. The weed is often found in bare places throughout gardens and fields and is considered by many as a “minor” weed. Entire fields can occasionally turn purple when its flowers bloom prior to spring planting.

Henbit is nothing compared to some of the other weeds which start to emerge later in the season. Take water hemp, for instance. This member of the pigweed family, which is a summer annual, has become resistant to herbicide in some cases. The plants range from two to eight feet tall and the larger ones branch out more frequently.

Water hemp actually prefers sunlight in moist conditions with fertile soil. Smaller plants will appear in areas with poorer soil conditions and dryness.

“This plant is rather weedy and can aggressively reseed itself in disturbed areas,” states the website

The weed everyone fears, which luckily has not shown up too much around here, is Palmer amaranth. This is a major threat to soybeans and cotton fields. Unfortunately, the plant has developed resistance to glyphosate which is a big concern among growers and chemical retailers. To take care of a Palmer weed problem, plants must be sprayed while they are extremely young.

While doing some online research, I found an interesting fact: Palmer was once eaten by Native Americans in North America. It was known for its abundant seeds and as a dried green or cooked vegetable. Could you imagine eating a helping of Palmer amaranth with your Sunday dinner?

The View from the Cab blog is powered each week by Petersen Motors of Fairbury.

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