Giant foxtail is a summer annual weed commonly found throughout the United States. The name originates from the distinctive seed head that looks like a fox’s tail. The weed has developed herbicide resistance in several states and has been known to reduce corn yield.
- Common name: Giant foxtail
- Scientific name: Setaria faberi
- Leaf shape: Long, thin and ovular with pointed ends
- Reproduction: Seeds, germination occurs in spring
- Flowers: Cylindrical seed head with bristles
- Giant foxtail stems can grow up to 4 feet tall.
- The leaves can be up to 16 inches long with short hairs on the upper surface.
- The plant is known for its distinctive, bristled seed head that droops as the plant matures.
- Giant foxtail grows best in fertile soils with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.
- The weed can survive drought.
- One plant can produce up to 2,500 seeds; on average, a plant will produce about 900 seeds.
- Seeds can live dormant in the soil for a few years if left untreated.
- According to Michigan State University, three giant foxtail plants per foot row can reduce corn yield by up to 14%.
- WeedScience.org lists herbicide-resistant giant foxtail in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
- The weed has shown resistance to Group 1, 2 and 5 herbicides.
- A program approach to weed control with multiple modes of action can help control giant foxtail in corn and soybeans.
- Make sure to apply a preemergence herbicide with residual activity, followed by a timely postemergence application.
- It’s easiest to control the weed before it’s 4 inches tall. So, an earlier postemergence application is better.
- Crop rotation can help keep giant foxtail populations down.
- Michigan State University recommends including alfalfa in rotation to combat the weed.
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