Name that Weed!!

weeds, cigarettes, watermelon5
Well, the rain came and the weeds around Amarillo are grateful. The drought was bad, but the current invasion of weeds has me wondering which I now prefer. For the past two years my yard was bare, dust blowing everywhere because of the drought. But this spring has brought us plenty of rain and now I am having to mow my lawn every other day—mostly to control the weeds. I was able to replant some of my lawn and to get good growth, but the weeds are now almost unmanageable. The above photo is typical of yards and vacant all across Amarillo. This darn weed can grow 3 inches over night. It cannot be controlled by mowing—it just grows faster. I started wondering what is this weed? Well, it’s called Pigweed.

The Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Program has an online pamphlet called, “Weeds of Importance for Home Garden in the Texas Panhandle and Beyond.” You can search it online and see photos and descriptions of some of the invasive weeds in your yard. Pigweed is described this way: “ Pigweed (Amaranthus ssp), Many species exist. One of the most common is Palmer amaranth, also known as Careless weed or Palmer pigweed, and red root pigweed. Annual plants that depend on seed overwintering. Growth is upward and perpendicular to ground. Resistance/tolerance to herbicides has been reported.” There is also a section on management including plowing, hoeing, and application of herbicides.

There are three other invasive weeds also mentioned that are equally as bothersome as Pigweed. One is that awful Russian Thistle, known as Tumbleweeds. The other is Puncturevine, also known as Goathead, and the other is Bindweed. All three of these weeds are in abundance this year due to the spring rain. I understand that a Goathead seed can germinate up to 5 years after it falls into the ground—and when it rains they proliferate. I have a bicycle with two flat tires full of Goatheads. The Goatheads are really bad this year. The Bindweed has been almost as much of a nuisance as the Pigweed. For the first time in two years I have a nice spring garden. I have already picked several “messes” of assorted greens, turnips, mustard, kale, spinach, beets, and lettuce. Failing a beat-down hail storm I should have plenty of yellow and zucchini squash, cucumbers, and okra. Also my pumpkin vines are already running all over the place. But the Bindweed has been a nuisance because as it grows the vine wraps around tender plants. The work is literally backbreaking to gingerly pull the Bindweed without also pulling up the plants.

Still, the biggest problem all across Amarillo is that awful Pigweed. On one street near my house the Pigweed is so tall it is blocking the view to safely access Taylor Street. Left unattended Pigweed will grow to 6 or 7 feet tall, then the seeds that form on top will scatter everywhere. Ignoring Pigweed is not a good idea because one week of growth can really work a push mower. Also, Pigweed has a way of growing under fences and away from a lawnmower’s path. Extracting Pigweed from a fence means pulling it by hand or using a weed-eater. Pigweed pulls up easily after a rain, but when the ground is dry it’s almost impossible to pull it up by the root. It will quickly grow back if you just break it off. So now you know. This year Amarillo property owners are being overrun by Pigweeds.

Copyright 2014 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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