An invasive weed that’s toxic to livestock and resistant to herbicides has turned up in Connecticut. The state announced Thursday that Palmer amaranth, a type of pigweed, was discovered this fall in two pumpkin fields in East Windsor.
The weed is highly aggressive and potentially damaging to crops. Yield losses of up to 90% in corn have been recorded.
Jatinder Aulakh, a scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, said farmers need to be the first line of defense.
“They need to actively scout for it on their farm and even in their neighborhood and field boundaries,” he said, “because this weed is present in Connecticut now, and we do not know how widespread it is.”
The weed is more common in southern parts of the United States. Its leaves are often identifiable by chevron-shaped water marks on the upper surface.
“We do not exactly know how it made its way into these farms,” Aulakh said. Scientists are working with farmers to determine whether bad seed mixture, dirty farm equipment, wildlife, or a combination of causes is to blame.
Aulakh said one plant can grow up to 12 feet high and produce as many as a million seeds.
“Be very active. This is the time to act,” Aulakh said. “Do not let any plant come to your farm and get established or produce any seeds.”
This story contains information from the Associated Press.