Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthys Palmer) is essentially a weed. Sometimes it is known as the careless weed, Palmer’s amaranth and Palmers Pigweed. It is a weed native to the Southwest and is considered a weed throughout the entire country.

Photo courtesy of the Soybean Checkoff


Why should I be concerned?

It is possible that this weed my have infested conservation plantings across the upper Midwest. Palmer amaranth has been identified in select states and counties. This can be a very fast growing and highly competitive weed. The weed can emerge in May and will grow through September with seeds being mature in August-September depending on the location. Each female plant can produce up to 100,000 seeds making it difficult to eradicate. Palmer Amaranth has been known to grow 2-3 inches per day and can grow as tall as 6-8 feet which can inhibit productive crop growth. According to the USDA yield losses have been reported up to 91% in corn and 79% in soybeans.

What can you do?

  • Monitor your conservation plantings and watch for Palmer amaranth starting in May.
  • If you find Palmer amaranth contact your crop consultant, the State Department of Agriculture and extension specialist in your area.
  • Avoid entering areas where the plant is suspected or confirmed.
  • Consider testing your seed for “all states noxious weed seed”.
  • Follow NRCS implementation requirements for stand establishment.
  • Monitor your plantings throughout the growing season.

Photo courtesy of the Soybean Checkoff


How do I recognize it?

  • Photo courtesy of University of Illinois

    It is a summer annual that commonly reaches 6-8 ft but can reach up to 10 ft.
  • Green leaves are smooth and arranged in an alternative pattern that grows symmetrically around the stem.
  • Leaves are oval to diamond shape.
  • There is a small, sharp spine at the leaf tip.
  • There are separate male and female plants.
  • Looks similar to other pigweeds such as water hemp, redraft, and smooth pigweed. (see image on right)
  • It does not have fine hairs on the stem.
  • The stalk connecting a leaf to the stem of the Palmer amaranth is longer than the length of the the leaf.
  • Seedhead spikes on female Palmer amaranth plants are much taller, up to 3 feet long and more prickly than water hemp.
  • Palmer flowerhead are sharp and prickly to the touch with bare hands.

Information on the Palmer amaranth was obtained from the USDA and National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). For more information on this topic check out the NRCS website.

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