Noxious weeds

A single plant of Palmer amaranth was found Oct. 7 in Sioux County. Lab testing confirmed the super weed, which has been found in nine North Dakota counties since 2018.

Bismarck this week to review the state’s noxious weeds list.

“Noxious” weeds are those that landowners are required by state law to control, to slow their spread. The state Agriculture Department coordinates the efforts of local weed boards and state and federal land managers, and oversees cost-share programs.

There are 13 weeds on the list, ranging from well-known ones such as leafy spurge and Canada thistle to more obscure-sounding plants such as diffuse knapweed. The list is updated on an “as needed” basis, with the most recent additions being houndstongue and Palmer amaranth last year, according to Agriculture Department spokeswoman Michelle Mielke.

Palmer amaranth is considered a super weed — it can grow as tall as 7 feet and produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. It’s able to resist many herbicides, and it’s strong enough to stop combines. A heavy Palmer amaranth infestation can cut soybean yields by as much as 79% and corn yields by up to 91%, according to research by Purdue University.

Palmer amaranth has spread to the Upper Midwest in recent years from the deserts of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. It was first confirmed in North Dakota in August 2018, in soybeans in McIntosh County, and it has since been confirmed in Benson, Dickey, Foster, Emmons, Grant, Morton, Richland and Sioux counties.

The state agriculture commissioner is required by law to review the noxious weed list at least every five years. The last official meeting was in 2015.

The Agriculture Commissioner’s Noxious Weed Forum scheduled Tuesday at the Bismarck Ramada Inn will include a hearing reviewing the list. That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be additions or deletions.

“This is more of an information-gathering hearing,” Mielke said. “Comments will be taken to be considered, along with any written comments.”

The comment period will extend for a week after the meeting, Mielke said. The Agriculture Department will then present its findings in writing.

The daylong public forum also will include numerous speakers, including Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. The department expects about 135 weed officials to attend.

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