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Public asked to report noxious weed that could damage crops in Wyoming

Photo of a noxious weed that can cause crop damage
Wyoming Weed and Pest Council
The noxious weed Palmer amaranth can spread quickly with each plant capable of producing 250,000 seeds, according to the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council.

A noxious weed spotted in the Bighorn Basin last summer could wreak havoc on crop production in Wyoming. The public is being asked to help stop the spread.

Porter Jones with the Big Horn County Weed and Pest Control District said Palmer amaranth is resistant to a lot of herbicides commonly used in row crop production. He said this could especially be an issue for farmers growing dry beans, sugar beets and corn in Wyoming.

“If you don’t respond quickly, it becomes a lot bigger problem and costs a lot more down the road to control it when it’s actually having an economic impact – versus now if it’s just in a few fields, we can hopefully eradicate it,” he said.

University of Wyoming studies estimate that the weed could cause annual yield losses of up to $32 million in sugar beets and $18 million to dry edible beans statewide.

The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council requests that the public report sightings of the weed in fields, along dirt roads and other rural places to their local weed and pest control district. The weed has green leaves and usually several long, frondy seed heads and can grow up to eight feet tall.

Last summer, the weed was found in a sugar beet field in Washakie County and growing at an animal shelter in Park County.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.
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