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MSU extension warns growers of difficulty in Palmer weed control
Michigan Correspondent

COLDWATER, Mich. — Everything corn, soybeans and wheat seemed topics of discussion at the Michigan corn and soybean producer update meeting Jan. 11, at the Dearth Center in Coldwater.

Row crop growers gathered to learn research results from corn and soybean field trials around the state, as the Michigan Corn Growers Assoc. (MCGA) and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee sponsored the daylong event.

The day kicked off with a lesson on Palmer amaranth, a new weed invading Michigan that has proven difficult to control. Christy Sprague of Michigan State University extension discussed the identifying characteristics of this member of the pigweed family, and explained it most likely migrated from Southern and Western states.

This plant is difficult to identify because of its similarities with other pigweed varieties, but a few of its unique characteristics are a smooth stem, it produces male and female plants, has sharp thorns on the stem, the seed head is long and unbranched and it has single seed heads.

Sprague discussed the results of soil-applied and post-emergence treatments but said there is nothing very effective right now. She added, “We need to get a handle on this before it’s too late, because it’s costing producers in the South approximately $30 to $50 an acre to control it.”

Another MSU extension educator, Dr. Chris Difonzo, discussed the two-spotted spider mite plaguing soybean producers. She explained these are arachnids, not insects, so insecticides won’t work on them. They are tiny and difficult to see but their populations build quickly and thrive in hot weather.

Two-spotted spider mites are controlled by climate and biocontrol – other insects that will eat them, but when insecticides are used then all the predators are eliminated. Difonzo told how to scout for mites and offered suggestions of pesticide applications that will control them.

The MCGA took the spotlight as Natalie Rector told producers about their annual meeting coming up Feb. 4 in Lansing, and the “Corn and Coffee” meetings scheduled around the state, where producers can discuss issues of concern.

MSU research scientist Dr. George Bird discussed his research on the soybean cyst nematode (SCN). He highlighted where the SCN came from, how bad the infestation is in Michigan and the seed treatments available to control it.

Mike Staton, MSU soybean educator, navigated the year’s soybean research conducted by the Soybean Management and Research Technology (SMaRT) program. 

Last year marked the second season of the program made possible by the checkoff investment of Michigan soybean producers.
This year, more than 35 growers around the state conducted 29 separate trials and, in cooperation with extension, another eight projects were implemented. A full report of the research may be obtained by contacting Staton at 269-673-0370 or
The Michigan Wheat Program (MWP) is in its first year of existence and Executive Director Jody Pollok-Newsom presented its progress. With the board in place and assessments gathered, the first year of operation is off and running.

The MWP will have its first annual meeting March 6 in Lansing. More information is available by visiting

The remainder of the afternoon was spent on the Freedom to Operate Program and the mapping out of directions for 2013, for SMaRT. Attendees were also able to earn Restricted Use Pesticide Credits at this annual meeting.