Mark Renz, Extension Weed Scientist
Despite the cool summer we had plenty of weeds at the Weed Experts booth this past week. Of the many samples brought in for identification eight participants submitted nine weeds they felt deserved the title of biggest weed at the FTD event for 2014. While none of the samples topped the 13 ft mark like last year, several were quite wide, making up for the lack of height. Of the nine samples submitted, four were annuals, four biennials, and only one perennial plant (common milkweed).
Typically the biennial and perennial plants take the prize, but this year a giant ragweed was the grand champion. Wayne Greeler from Neillsville Wisconsin brought in this specimen what was over 10 ft tall, and seven feet wide. It is uncommon for a giant ragweed to get this wide but the extra girth allowed it to take the grand prize. Tuesday’s winner was another giant ragweed submitted by Ken McGwin from Montello. It was much taller than the grand champion (> 12 feet), but only four feet wide. As we calculate the winner by multiplying the height times the width, this plant fell short of the grand prize. Wednesday’s winner Mary Jane Fry from Pittsville did bring in a massive bull thistle, but its dimensions couldn’t match the winners from Tuesday or Thursday.
All submissions were found next to a barn, shed, fence, or tree. So apparently having a structure nearby helps. Remember this tip when we hold the event next year in Dane County. That is close enough to my home I may consider entering! All daily winners will receive a weed identification book, as thanks for hauling these winning specimens to farm tech days. Anyone who has tried to bring in one of these plants can attest that it is no easy task.