This is a picture of a weed called palmer amaranth. It is in the same family as pig weed and waterhemp. However, it is much more aggressive than other species in the family. This palmer amaranth weed was taken from a field in southern Nebraska. University of Minnesota Extension educator Dave Nicolai emailed me this picture. The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council funded a tour of University of Minnesota Extension educators to Nebraska to learn how they were dealing with palmer amaranth.

Last summer, palmer amaranth was found in Minnesota for the first time. A number of landowners bought pollinator seed to plant in their CRP acres and it was contaminated with palmer amaranth. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture began an investigation to determine where the seed came from and to try and eradicate the weed. They went into the fields with flame throwers and are scouting the fields this summer to see if any of the plants went to seed.

I suspect it is just a matter of time before palmer amaranth shows up again in Minnesota as it is already in northern Iowa. There are so many ways it can spread, on machinery and equipment moving from field to field, in cotton seed hauled from the south into Minnesota for cattle feed to even migrating birds. Yes, they think birds can eat the seed fly north and "deposit" the seed when birds do what birds do. The key is to keep palmer amaranth from getting established in Minnesota. That means everyone should know what the weed looks like and if found contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.