KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Scientists at Montana State University's agriculture research center say they are investigating the possible appearance of an herbicide-resistant weed that can damage fallow wheat fields.

Scientists are trying to confirm if a weed called kochia found in fields near Gildford and Hingham, and in areas west of Rudyard, Inverness and Joplin, is resistant to glyphosate.

"There is a chance of that rapid expansion of the population, which would be a serious concern," Prashant Jha, an associate professor at MSU and scientist at the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station's Southern Agricultural Research Center based in Huntley, told the Flathead Beacon (http://bit.ly/Nw64rF ).

Jha said seeds will be collected in the fall and screened through lab work to determine if the plants are resistant to herbicide. Results will be released in the spring. If it turns out the plants have adapted to survive herbicide applications, scientists will consider ways to combat the resistance.

"Surely we need to manage this, otherwise it will be a great concern," Jha said.

Bob Stougaard, an MSU professor and weed scientist with the Northwest Ag Research Center in Kalispell, said Kochia doesn't grow well in the Kallispell area.

"We have some kochia in this part of the state but not very much," he said "It isn't very prevalent."

He said a large number of local growers use tillage, such as plowing, rather than heavy amounts of herbicides to combat weeds. Using less herbicide, he said, reduces the chances of producing a resistant population of weeds.

"Because we aren't using herbicides as intensely we are not seeing the development of resistant weeds as rapidly as (other areas of Montana)," he said.

Jha said that farmers who use herbicide should always use the recommended rate rather than a lower amount. He also said rotating types of herbicides and diversifying crop rotations is another good strategy.


Information from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com