N.C. farmers have been battling witchweed for more than 50 years. The parasitic plant attaches directly to the root systems of its host and steals valuable nutrients and water. Soil fumigation treatments using methyl bromide, shown above, are one way the department has helped control the weed in infected areas. The treatment kills residual witchweed seeds in the soil.
Soil fumigation treatments and other prevention programs have been so successful that witchweed populations have been contained to just five counties in southeastern North Carolina. So few acres are now infected that the soil fumigation program will be phased out this year in favor of alternative treatment programs.
The department’s Plant Industry Division continues to monitor witchweed and assist farmers with meeting requirements for transporting soil, plants or machinery out of infested areas.
For more information about this and other projects being conducted by the Plant Industry Division, go to www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry.