By Ross Guidotti

GREENSBURG (KDKA) — It is growing season, a time for farmers to plant their crops; but this year, they are facing invasive weeds growing on their land, and they could present a bigger challenge than the weather.

It’s mid-May, and for third generation farmer Rick Ebert, it’s planting season.

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“At this time right now, corn and soy beans are going in,” says Ebert.

In addition to 200-plus acres of crops, 80 head of milk cows make up the Ebert’s Westmoreland County family operation; but there are things with animal-sounding names that Ebert would rather not see anywhere near his farmland.

“There’s resistant lambsquarter, there’s horseweed,” says Ebert.

Horseweed also known as “mare’s tail” is starting to grow. Usually, it’s no big deal, but pesticides that once killed it aren’t as effective as they use to be.

“It’s like any organism out there, they adapt to their environment,” Ebert said.

Pigweed and Palmer’s amaranth are also showing that they’re tougher than normally effective weed killer.

“If they’re not controlled, they take over the field,” Ebert said.

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Another weed of concern is giant ragweed. It can grow up to 10-feet tall and take up lots of farmland. So far it’s not resistant to pesticides, but the key word is “yet.”

Canadian thistle, flat grass, and even daisies are all potential super weeds, plants that can clog up and drain nutrients from the soil.

“If you get a really large infestation, you could lose half a crop,” said Ebert.

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The prospect of spending more money on pesticides that may or may not work means a bite out of the budget; and while the weeds’ resistance to pesticides change, one thing on the farm remains the same, there’s lots of land but sometimes a very small payout.

Ebert: “With commodity prices down right now, there’s… it’s a tight margin to make any type of profit on an acre of corn or soy beans.”

KDKA’s Ross Guidotti: “So this isn’t some little weed?”

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Ebert: “No, not at all. It’s always a challenge of everyday farming to make a living.”