How weeds evolve

Depending on your point of view, barnyardgrass is a nightmare or a marvel.

That’s because it’s a supremely triumphant weed. Barnyardgrass can swoop in to fields and outcompete planted crops. It is particularly devastating on rice farms, where losses sometimes reach 100 percent. It has evolved resistance to a number of herbicides that farmers rely on to control weeds. Even when farmers think they have rid a field of barnyardgrass, they may not have actually won the battle. Each weed can produce up to a million seeds, which nestle into the soil, waiting for a chance to regrow.

Barnyardgrass is but one of many kinds of weeds found around the world. All told, they result in a 10 percent reduction in the productivity of crops. In the United States alone, they cause an estimated $33 billion in losses each year. Herbicides can reduce the toll, but within a few years of the introduction of a new chemical, weeds evolve resistance to it.

Read the full story here:  Looking for ways to beat the weeds

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