University of Illinois Plant Clinic announces Palmer amaranth seed ID and herbicide resistance plant tissue testing

Last summer, farmers in the Midwest got an unwelcome surprise after planting native seed on Conservation Reserve Program acres. Palmer amaranth is an aggressive and hard-to-kill weed. As a possible solution, some states declared Palmer a noxious weed, which prohibits its sale and transport.

The typical testing method involves growing a sample of seeds until the plants are large enough to be identified, but this is a slow and potentially unreliable process. Pat Tranel, molecular weed scientist at the University of Illinois, said growers are calling and telling him, their businesses are up in the air because of this.” Unless they have a way to certify their product is Palmer-free, they can’t sell it,” said Tranel. There is a company that tests individual seeds using DNA sequencing, but charges $100 per seed. Continue reading