Weeds are outwitting man’s efforts to beat them back. Where weeds are concerned it is mostly us against them. The dictionary definition of a weed is a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted. They annoy us and they bring out the killer instinct in us. We will pay a lot of money on weed killing liquids in a constant battle to prevent their growth.
We wage chemical warfare against them and they win the battle. There are the survival of the fittest currently taking over this country. They have become enemies of the states. A particular weed called Palmer Amaranth also known as Pig Weed was a manageable nuisance until recently. Some of them grow to 5 or 6 feet tall in only 70 days of growth. If you look closely inside a patch of the stuff you might find something you really want to grow say like a cotton crop that will be completely overwhelmed.
It is traveling across the south and has devastated cotton and soy bean crops. There are weed specialists from the University of Georgia that their students call Doctor Pigweed. This relentless killer of crops was discovered 8 years ago on a farm in Macon County Georgia. Then they soon discovered it growing in 76 of Georgia's Counties so it went from 500 acres to now in 2012 to well over 2 million acres. How did that happen?
Now the weed is going to produce in excess of 500,000 seeds and if it doesn’t die the next plant will also produce half a million seeds too. Desperate farmers have deployed their own army of crop workers not to pick cotton but to pluck out the weeds. Doctor Pig Weed has a warning for Americans in that this weed has absolutely adapted to everything thrown out to try to kill it.
Another nuisance weed called Kudzu was brought to America from Asia and planted along the railroads as a vine. Somehow it got way out of hand according to the Department of Agriculture and now encompasses about 8 million acres of it. There is so much of it running rampant along state highways that scientists are trying to make it into a bio-fuel. Fifty years ago it would be hard to find this weed north of the Potomac River. Now it is pretty much everywhere north. Two years ago for the first time they found it in Southern Ontario, Canada.
Kudzu is a product of climate change. The cold winters used to kill the weed seasonally. Now our winters are much warmer and the weed continues to grow now year round. What else can grow through a crack in a parking lot and thrive and even flower other than weeds? Nothing. If we could only learn from the resilience of weeds and somehow make our good crops survive as well.