Everyone definitely loves a bountiful harvest. However, there are times when pests, in the guise of greens, creep in on the ground to sabotage our harvests.
For most people, the easiest solution for unwanted vegetation would be herbicides but such a chemical is not without side effects, as evidenced by Dicamba herbicide. Dicamba or 3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid is a herbicide that was commonly used for the eradication of broadleaf weeds growing near crops such as corn and soybeans. The ingredients used in the herbicide were determined toxic to the crops and therefore it was discontinued. Instead of helping the crop farmers manage their weed situation, it only made farming more difficult for them due to the side effects of the herbicide. There are many herbicides that have side effects that can ruin your crops instead of helping you bring more crop yield. To learn about its negative side effects and potential harm that could result in losses, see more about these.
Why are weeds harmful to your crops?
Weeds are a commonplace pest in any garden or farm. They take up valuable space in the soil that is allotted for the crops and they also consume nutrients in the soil that are supposed to go to the crops. Weeds can also attract pests that attack the crops and this makes it even harder to grow crops without damage. So, weeds must be taken out immediately to protect the crops.
Common Harmful Weeds
To help you spot weeds and determine how to deal with them, here are 8 common weeds that can damage your crops:
Ragweed (genus Ambrosia)
Ragweed is a common flowering plant that is found in several regions of North America. This plant is characterized by its erect figure and smooth or toothed lobes of leaves. The flowers of this plant are notorious for producing pollen that is easily carried by the wind and it is a primary cause of pollen-related allergic rhinitis reactions.
Due to the ease with how ragweed grows on the soil, the control of this weed is proving to be a problem for most farmers. This weed has also proven to be resistant to mild herbicides, thus farmers had to resort to stronger and more lethal herbicides to control their growth. Cutting down the weeds can also be a remedy but this is only effective for two to three weeks as the plant can regrow easily if the roots remain on the ground. These types of weeds are a common problem for corn and soybean farmers because the weeds like to clump around the crop seedlings and block the sunlight that is needed by the seedlings.
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)
The common chickweed is a succulent that grows at a height of 2-4 inches and it is identified by small white flowers with five white petals and pointed-tipped round leaves that grow opposite each other. This plant is naturally found in several regions in Asia, North America, and Europe. The plant blooms fairly well in every season and it is one of the faster-growing weeds found in most farms and gardens.
A single plant can produce more than 800 seeds in its lifetime. Thus, it propagates faster than other types of weeds and can colonize an area with relative ease. The plant can continuously produce seeds for up to 8 years, so it will be a huge problem if these weeds are left untouched. Luckily for framers, the roots of the plants grow fairly shallow and it can easily be uprooted. The remaining problem is the amount of manual labor required in uprooting them because of the fast propagation of this plant.
Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Giant Hogweed is an invasive flowering plant. It is also known as cartwheel-flower, giant cow parsley, or hogsbane. Giant Hogweed can be identified through its white flower blooms and purple-reddish stems with stiff and prickly white hairs. It can reach over 10 feet in height and is commonly found along roadsides, train tracks, fields, forests, streams, and rivers. Giant Hogweed grows quickly and easily spreads out of control, disrupting or destroying the plants around it. Hence, this is one of the weeds that should be kept out of your garden or farm.
Aside from the potential harm that it can do to plants, the Giant Hogweed is harmful to humans and animals as well. Its sap has toxic chemicals that can cause photodermatitis or photosensitivity, which causes skin irritation and painful burns that could result in long-lasting scars.
Nut grass (Cyperus rotundus)
Nut grass or Nutsedge, also known as Cyperus rotundus, is commonly seen in Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and Africa. These weeds resemble grass and are usually seen growing in areas that are too moist or have poor irrigation. This plant is very resistant to most herbicides and has proven to be a huge problem for crop farmers.
The plant is classified as an allelopathic plant, meaning that the plant produces harmful substances that discourage other plants from growing, so that the plant itself can solely benefit from the nutrients in the soil. Farmers also have difficulty uprooting the plant because the plant grows from tubers and uprooting this plant leaves the tubers stuck in the ground and this gives a chance for the plant to regrow back, The best way to get rid of these plants is to dig up the tubers and dispose of them immediately.
Wild foxtail millet (Setaria viridis)
The wild foxtail millet is a weed that is common in Eurasia and it can be seen growing in a variety of places such as grasslands, gardens, undeveloped lands, and even in urban locations such as sidewalks and railroads. The plant is easily identifiable by its inflorescence, or cluster of flowers, that grows vertically up to 20cm in height. The flowers are spiked and compact accompanied by a green hue.
These weeds are especially fast in reproducing, with an average of 34,000 seeds produced in their lifespan. The weeds are very resilient to all conditions and can grow in almost any type of soil. Farmers will have a hard time trimming down these weeds if left to grow to their full length so it is advisable to cut them down at the first signs of blooming. Their presence around crops also contributes to a poorer quality of grain yield, so it is necessary for grain farmers to clear their fields from these types of weeds.
Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense)
The Chinese Privet is a small shrub that is characterized by long, oblong leaves and fruit that turns dark purple upon maturity. This plant originated from China and has origins in Taiwan and Vietnam. The plant is now thriving in most Southern countries and it is classified as an invasive species.
The plant easily spreads due to its root sprouts and the various wildlife preying on its fruits and scattering its seeds. The invasive nature of this plant proves to be a problem for crop farmers because the plant can reach up to 20ft in height and it covers most crops and robs them of the sunlight needed for growth.
Bindweed is a climbing vine that is also called wild morning glory (since it looks like morning glory). It has large, heart-shaped leaves, trumpet-like flowers, and thin stems. It grows along the ground and fences and spreads as its stems wrap around any object or plant on its path. Its roots grow and extend underground, reaching the neighboring soil and landscapes.
It does harm to other plants by taking the nutrients and water intended for them. It has been placed on the noxious weed lists of many states for being very damaging to other plants and difficult to control.
Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
The Canada Thistle is a plant that takes over large spaces due to its root system that aggressively shoots out new sprouts to invade areas and outgrow other nearby plants. This weed is also a good seed producer so this helps it propagate even faster if left unchecked. The seeds of the plant can be scattered by the wind. This happens in the middle of the year when the flowers mature into “fluffy” white material that can be easily dispersed by the wind. Due to their ease of propagation, crop farmers can experience a sudden surge of these weeds during windy seasons.
To control the population of this weed, farmers continuously need to mow down affected areas before the flowers start blooming. The application of foliar herbicides has also been proven to be the most effective way of dealing with these types of plants.
How can I prevent weeds from growing among my crops?
It is almost impossible to avoid all weeds frown growing around your crops because weeds have different methods of propagation such as seed dispersal through wind and other wildlife, or by propagation through root formations. Weeds can suddenly pop up at any time around your plants and they will continue to do so because it is part of the cycle of life.
The best method for weed control, and even pest control, is constant vigilance and maintenance of your garden beds. Always keep an eye out for unfamiliar sprouts growing out of place because these are most likely weeds starting to bloom. Take care of them immediately by uprooting them fully or by applying safe and suitable herbicides to your garden soil.