Concerning reports from Minnesota farm country have identified Palmer amaranth in farm fields, with the latest coming last week in Jackson County. While state officials are hard at work investigating the source of the invasive weed, farmers can play a role in preventing it spreading by taking extra precautions.
First, officials have recommended farmers take an extra look at the labels found on cover crop seed mixtures. Palmer amaranth is listed as a “Prohibitive Weed Seed,” meaning it is not allowed in any seed offered for sale in the state. All cover crop seed available for purchase needs to be tested and have a label confirming it and other noxious weed seeds are not present.
If a label is not present on the seed mixture, it is important farmers do not purchase or plant the seeds in case Palmer amaranth is present in an untested package. If you are concerned, contact the Seed Regulatory Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) at 651-201-6531 for label review and sampling.
Farmers are also recommended to thoroughly wash any farm equipment purchased out of state, particularly from the southwestern United States where Palmer amaranth is native. A combine, for example, is capable of spreading Palmer amaranth if not thoroughly cleaned before hitting the field.
If you suspect Palmer amaranth on your property, immediately call your local University of Minnesota Extension Educator, crop consultant or the MDA’s Arrest the Pest (888-545-6684) to report locations.