Weed out superweeds with innovative planting tactics

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Superweeds are evolving faster than scientists can track them, causing billions of dollars of damage annually. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Superweeds have developed resistance to herbicides as a result of repeated use of the same pest management tactics. Weed scientists also define superweeds as those evolving to grow laterally to avoid the blade of a lawnmower, or look like rice seedlings to avoid hand weeding. The damage caused by these new weeds is difficult to access, as they are changing faster than scientists can track them. Growers are developing practices to curb the destruction of their crops, while scientists are targeting specific parts of weeds to inhibit growth.

Palmer amaranth is the latest botanical villain of agriculture, developing a resistance to Monsanto's dicamba pesticide within five years. The cost of weed control has doubled in the last 10-15 years. H. Claire Brown wrote about herbicides’ growing resistance to superweeds in her article for The New York Times.

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Evan Kleiman