If there’s one thing that Iowa farmers can count on, it’s that weeds will return every growing season and threaten to crowd out crops in the field.

“It’s a weed’s job to occupy disturbed soil,” explains Meaghan Anderson, central Iowa field agronomist for Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach.

"It’s why weeds show up in a week or two in grass. It’s why they show up in crop fields," Anderson says. "And weeds can cause very significant (crop) losses. We have to manage weeds every year, because if we don’t stay on top of it, they just get worse and worse.

”For example, Anderson says one particularly nasty field weed, known as waterhemp, can produce thousands of seeds if allowed to reach maturity.

“That’s half a million potential plants waiting in the soil to come up next year,” she explains.

Iowa farmers...