NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Palmer Amaranth Outbreak in Livestock Feed Found in North Dakota

Palmer amaranth, Palmer outbreak, Palmer amaranth grain screenings

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources

Producers have more than likely heard in the media of the Palmer outbreak from loads of screenings to a cattle producer in Barnes County, North Dakota. This confirms that Palmer can grow in more areas than cropland, it has the ability to grow in pastures and feedlot conditions. Now that Palmer is in North Dakota, it is no longer about keeping it out of the state, now we must focus on how to try and manage it. Below is an article from NDSU on how to go about doing this.

As many of you are aware, Palmer amaranth associated with grain screenings fed to livestock has resulted in a large infestation in eastern North Dakota. This situation made it apparent that our messaging related to Palmer has not been effective in reaching livestock producers. You may have questions on handling livestock feeds and manure that may be contaminated. NDSU Extension specialists have several tips on this issue:

  • Buying cleaned grain can help keep Palmer amaranth off the farm, however, purchased feed is not routinely tested for     weed seeds.
  • Be aware of what state screenings is sourced from, and the level of Palmer amaranth in that state.
  • If possible, have screenings tested for the presence of pigweed seeds. If pigweed seeds are cleaned out/separated from the rest of the feed, they can be sent to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center on campus for genetic identification. The NAGC can test up to 200 pigweed seed per sample for a fee of $75 per sample.
  • We are not aware of any commercial business that will check screenings for pigweeds seed, but if agents or specialists are especially worried about any specific feed source, they can contact Joe Ikley for testing screenings.
  • Feeding whole seeds may perpetuate the problem. Some seeds, especially tiny, hard-shelled seeds from Palmer amaranth, can escape digestion by cattle.
  • Grind the screenings so fine that the seeds are destroyed. For a small-seeded plant such as Palmer amaranth, aggressive grain processing is needed and hammer milling is usually the best.
  • Compost manure to reduce seed viability.
  • When purchasing cover crop seed, use caution when sourcing seed from states with Palmer amaranth and be aware of what testing, if any, has been conducted on the seed.

Source: Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist, miranda.meehan@ndsu.edu

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