Palmer amaranth found in western North Dakota counties

Weed officials believe they've found Palmer amaranth in Grant and Sioux counties, which would be the farthest west outbreak of the noxious weed in North Dakota.

Palmer amaranth plants can reach 6 to 8 feet tall, and a single plant can produce up to 1 million seeds. NDSU photo
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BISMARCK, North Dakota — North Dakota State University specialists and county weed officers in Grant and Sioux counties believe Palmer amaranth has been found in fields in the two counties, which would represent the farthest west the fast-growing noxious weed has been found, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture says.

The weed specialists and weed officers are working with the producer to determine a weed management plan, the department said. The source of the Palmer amaranth remains under investigation, though some reports have blamed cattle feed screenings.

"We have received numerous calls from producers impacted by the drought and needing feed who stated that they understand the risk associated with screenings, and they need to have a good weed management plan in place," the statement from the department said. "We also worked with processors to establish testing protocols for screenings to minimize or eliminate the risk of noxious weeds going back out as livestock feed."

A 2020 case in Barnes County tied sunflower screenings to the state's largest case Palmer amaranth breakout to date. The weed can spread through manure from cattle fed the screenings used as fertilizer.

Palmer amaranth is a fast-growing weed that has been a long-standing concern in the southeastern United States but in recent years has spread to the Upper Midwest. The weed can damage farm equipment and devastate yields, including reports of yield losses of up to 91% in corn and 79% in soybeans. A single plant can produce as many as 1 million seeds, and the seeds are extremely small, and farmers can spread them unintentionally. Seeds also can lay dormant for years until growing conditions are favorable.

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