Foxtail barley tolerates the saline conditions that occur once it dries out after periods of excess moisture. It has managed to establish itself on a significant number of acres in Western Canada recently. | File photo

Weed of the Week: foxtail barley

Some weeds have flourished with the increase in no-till acres over the past 20 years. One of them is foxtail barley, known to biologists as hordeum jubatum. It has become an increasing concern after our series of wetter years and with the expansion of saline-affected soils. Foxtail barley tolerates the saline conditions that occur once […] Read more

Weed of the Week: cleavers

Last week I addressed a weed that I called the scourge of the south. For more northern grain belt farmers, this week I will discuss the scourge of the north, more commonly known as cleavers. Just as we saw a significant increase in the acres infested with kochia, we have seen cleavers spread across agricultural […] Read more

Kochia contains saponins, alkaloids, oxalates and nitrates that can be toxic to livestock, so it must be controlled in their diet.  |  File photo

Weed of the Week: kochia

I would like to discuss two weeds over the next couple of weeks. One I will refer to as the scourge of the south and the other as the scourge of the north. Unluckily, I have worked in an area where the two come together so have experience with both. The scourge of the south […] Read more


This annoying weed goes by many names —  lady's purse, witches pouches, rattle pouch, clapper's pouch — all derived from the appearance of the seed pods, which resemble small purses. | File photo

Weed of the Week: shepherd’s purse

Reducing tillage has increased cash flow, boosted bottom lines and improved soil health. One of the downsides has been minor weeds becoming major problems. Some fall annual weeds have thrived where steel now fails to find them. Worse, pests like shepherd’s purse have managed to escape some of the handiest herbicides, such as Group 2 […] Read more

Wild buckwheat is a yield robber, but it can also cause harvesting headhaches.  |  Michael Raine photo

Weed of The Week: wild buckwheat

Wild buckwheat remains a pest risk for farmers across the Prairies. Alberta farmers say it is their least favourite weed. It can be tough to kill, degrades grain and oilseed samples, messes up harvests and will trip up the odd field scout. The ropy pest can prompt grain buyers to refuse shipments of canaryseed if […] Read more


Wild oats, formally known as avena fatua, cost farmers an estimated $500 million dollars a year, and despite a wide range of tools to control the pest, some of the best are the old-school ones. | File photo

Weed of the Week: wild oats

They are everywhere, and in some cases they are getting hard to kill. Wild oats, formally known as avena fatua, cost farmers an estimated $500 million dollars a year, and despite a wide range of tools to control the pest, some of the best are the old-school ones. Despite being a problem for most of […] Read more

Weed of the Week: wild mustard

With all the great ways to kill broadleaf weeds, one might think wild mustard would be a thing of the past. But not so. The pest, which is known formally as Sinapis arvensis or Brassica kaber, remains an elusive foe, partly because of its seeds’ ability to remain viable for a decade or more. The […] Read more

Wild buckwheat is a prolific and aggressive weed.  |  File photo

Weed of the Week: wild buckwheat

Wild buckwheat has long wound its way through producers’ crops and onto the list of the most obnoxious weeds in prairie fields. Its long, ropey stems wrap around a combine’s reel or carry more crop than the machine can handle up the feeder. As a result, Agriculture Canada has classified wild buckwheat as producers’ third […] Read more


Each shepherd's purse plant is capable of producing 45,000 seeds. | File photo

Weed of the Week: shepherd’s purse

Shepherd’s purse can have deleterious effects on farmers’ purses. This fall annual should be all but killed for this crop year, but the steady moisture supplies and last year’s open fall means this hardy pest might be lingering in many prairie fields. The weed was restricted to wetter spots and field edges before tillage was […] Read more

Dock is susceptible to a variety of broadleaf herbicides, but tillage is sometimes necessary.  |  File photo

Weed of the Week: field dock

Field dock’s single, sometimes forked, large taproot has allowed the weed to flourish since tillage was reduced in Western Canada. It pokes out of the crop where the sprayer missed, and at first the green flowers and stalks aren’t too noticeable. However, it later turns red and brown and sticks out like a sore thumb. […] Read more