Scientists rank Palmer amaranth as most difficult weed, foxtail most widespread

foxtail palmeramaranth bluegrassThree of the most troublesome plants for row-crop and pasture producers are, from left, foxtail, Palmer amaranth and bluegrass, as listed by the Weed Science Society of America.Weed control may feel like a continuous—and often frustrating—battle, but there are ways to develop more effective management strategies. It starts with identifying which types are the most problematic.

A recent survey from the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) categorizes the most common and troublesome weeds found in grass crops, pasture and turf. Conducted in 2020, the survey includes input from more than 315 weed scientists in the U.S. and Canada. Seven categories of grass crops were included in addition to pastureland, rangeland and other hay.

Foxtail was identified as the most prevalent species. These grasses, characterized by their fuzzy seed head, are typically found during the spring and summer months. In Missouri, the most common types are yellow, green and giant foxtails.

The most worrisome weed is likely no surprise to most growers: Palmer amaranth. In addition to being identified as the weed causing the most trouble overall, it is the top concern in corn as well as sorghum.

Palmer amaranth is a summer annual that resembles other varieties of pigweed. If left uncontrolled, it can have potentially devastating impacts on row-crop yields. The nitrates found in its leaves can also be toxic to livestock.

“Palmer amaranth grows rapidly, has an extensive root struc­ture and produces massive amounts of seeds that are easily transported and spread,” said Stanley Culpepper, professor and extension weed scientist at the University of Georgia. “Even more impressive are its genetic capabilities. Palmer amaranth can quickly evolve resistance to herbicides and has the potential to transfer that resistance to new plants through pollen movement.”

To reduce its spread, Culpepper recommends a timely and holistic approach. He says removing plants before they produce seeds is key, in addition to treating with herbicides.

Other rising contenders are bluegrass species, primarily annual bluegrass, which ranks second overall as the most troublesome weed. It’s particularly problematic in turf and urban ecosystems, such as golf courses, sports fields and public parks. Bluegrass is very similar to Palmer amaranth in that it’s highly productive and easily adaptable. Plant scientists say a diversified approach is the most sustainable—and effective—long-term control strategy for this weed.

A full list of survey results can be found on WSSA’s website at

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Agricultural aviation celebrates 100 years in August

aviationAugust marks the 100th anniversary of what is considered the first successful flight of a “crop duster” plane, which applied arsenate to control caterpillars in a catalpa tree grove in Ohio. Since then, agricultural aviation has evolved and advanced into an important part of crop production. Growers rely on aerial applications to deliver plant nutrients, seed cover crops and spray crop protection products.During peak summer months, agriculture pilots (commonly referred to as “crop dusters”) are often seen flying over corn and soybean fields, applying fertilizers and crop protection products. In row-crop country, this familiar practice serves an invaluable purpose for farmers. It may come as a surprise, however, to learn that agricul­tural aviation has been around for nearly a century, reaching its 100-year milestone this August.

In 1921, the Ohio Department of Agri­culture developed an aerial crop-dusting experiment designed to prevent sphinx moth caterpillars from damaging a valuable crop of catalpa, medium-sized, flowering trees known for their distinctive fruit that resembles long, thin bean pods. On Aug. 3, U.S. Army test pilot Lieutenant John Mac­ready applied arsenate dust from a World War I plane over an Ohio catalpa grove. The technique worked wonders. The pests were removed, the crop was saved and the agricultural aviation industry was born.

Macready’s flight paved the way for future advancements and in­novation within the industry. Today, 1,200-horsepower, turbine-en­gine planes and high-performance helicopters treat more than 125 million acres of U.S. cropland each year.

Producers utilize aerial application for a multitude of reasons. A few of the most common are to protect crops from disease, weed and pest damage; deliver much-needed plant nutrients; and seed cover crops. The practice is used to treat larger, more distant areas with less disturbance or fields where conditions aren’t conducive for ground rigs.

“Farming in the 21st century is a complex balance of maximiz­ing yields while protecting the environment and preserving overall sustainability,” said Andrew Moore, CEO of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). “Aerial applicators’ efficiency and abil­ity to apply fertilizer or attack pests at just the right time play a key role in helping farmers meet those demands.”

In addition to serving an essential role within agriculture, aerial application is an important tool used in managing forests, fighting wildfires and controlling mosquitoes, Moore added. Looking ahead, this technology may also be used to address challenges related to climate change and the rapidly increasing global population.

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the first aeri­al application flight, NAAA launched an outreach campaign that includes documentary videos, a history book and timeline, as well as celebratory events held throughout the country. To learn more, visit

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Across the state, Missouri prepares to celebrate bicentennial with a variety of community events

In August, Missouri will officially celebrate its 200th birthday. That means many bicentennial events are planned this summer, culminating with Statehood Day at the Capitol build­ing in Jefferson City on Aug. 10, the date Missouri officially entered the union. This formal recognition of the milestone will include the unveiling of the Missouri Bicentennial stamp, exhib­its in the Capitol, a U.S. Naturalization Ceremony and more.

Here are a few other celebrations happening across the state:

The State Historical Society of Missouri and the University of Missouri are hosting “Together for 21 Fest,” a three-day event at the Center for Missouri Studies and MU’s Columbia campus. The festival, slated Aug. 6-8, will celebrate Missouri’s 200 years through the arts, with activities such as live music, documenta­ry film screenings and folk art demonstrations.

The First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles will host a commemoration event on Aug. 7 at the place where Missouri’s first legislature met from 1821 to 1826. The event, organized by Missouri State Parks, will give Missourians a chance to tour the original rooms where it all happened.

The Missouri Bicentennial Commission is planning a state­wide ice cream social on Aug. 10. Missourians can join in by signing up online and sharing photos of their community cele­brations under the hashtag #ScoopsAcrossMissouri.

The Missouri State Fair, Aug. 12-22 in Sedalia, will give a nod to the historic anniversary with a bicentennial theme. Com­memorative exhibits and events are joining the fair’s regular agenda of livestock shows, entertainment and more.

The Missouri Bicentennial Quilt is also making its rounds across the state. Quilt block submissions were accepted from October 2018 through September 2019, and one block was selected for each Mis­souri county and the independent City of St. Louis. The quilt exhibition sched­ule will be released a month in advance of each stop. Learn more and check out the submitted and selected quilt blocks at

All in-person events are being planned with health guidelines for COVID-19 safety in mind, but some of them will also be available to participate in via livestream.

Many communities and organiza­tions are planning and hosting their own bicentennial events and projects. Find out more about how you can help celebrate Missouri’s big birthday at, which includes an interactive map of other activities across the state.

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