Field Facts: Kochia

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kochia weed in dry field

Kochia is an annual broadleaf weed that emerges in early summer and quickly reproduces, even in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Get the facts on kochia management below.

  • Common name: Kochia, Mexican fireweed, mirabel, mock cypress
  • Scientific name:Bassia scoparia
  • Cotyledons: Ovate to diamond-shaped
  • Leaf shape: Lance- or linear-shaped, dull green and smooth, 0.5 to 2 inches long
  • Stems: Branched, round and purple to red in color, with hairs
  • Flowers: Green flowers with hairy bracts and form spikes in leaf axils
  • Fruit: Small fruits with an oval, brown to black seed
  • Reproduction: Monecious (male and female attributes on one plant)

Fast Facts on Kochia:

  • Mature kochia plants grow up to 7 feet tall, with an extensive root system that can extend 15 feet deep into the soil and 21 feet in diameter.1
  • Young kochia plants may be confused with lambsquarters seedlings. To identify young immature kochia, look for highly branched growth patterns with hairs occurring along the leaf.
  • Adult kochia plants can produce up to 30,000 seeds.1
    • The weeds spread via a “tumbleweed” mechanism, meaning a mature stem will detach from its base and then be blown by the wind.
    • Seeds do not remain viable in the soil for an extended period, but they exhibit a high initial germination rate. Under favorable conditions, seeds initiate germination within two or three hours and seedlings establish quickly.1
  • Heavy infestations of kochia are known to cause as much as 70% yield loss in row crops. The plants also can interfere with harvest by getting tangled up in machinery.1
  • Kochia can be found in a very wide range of temperatures and climatic regions, but it particularly adapts to arid and semi-arid regions. It can be found in soils with high salinity and in areas with as little as 6 inches of annual rainfall.2
  • Kochia populations have been found with resistance to at least four herbicide groups: Group 2 (ALS inhibitors), Group 4 (synthetic auxins), Group 6 (photosystem II inhibitors) and Group 9 (EPSP synthase inhibitors).1
  • According to the International Herbicide-resistant Weed Database, herbicide-resistant kochia has been found in 20 states. In addition, the weed has shown resistance to herbicide in noncrop areas like railways, roadsides, and industrial sites in Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah. 

Control Tips:

Because most kochia seeds do not live for more than a year, preventing seed production for a single year will significantly help reduce infestations in following years. As germination occurs early in the season, control methods are the most effective in early spring before the seeds have set. 

  • Encourage customers to start each spring with tillage and/or a burndown herbicide application to control kochia.
    • Apply the burndown shortly after the first flush of kochia has emerged.
  • Following the burndown, customers should use a program approach that includes preemergence and postemergence applications with multiple modes of action and residual activity.
  • It’s important to note that kochia is very adaptable to hot, dry conditions. In drought or dry weather conditions, the weed can develop a thick cuticle around the leaves, which makes it harder to absorb herbicides. Using the right adjuvants can help combat this issue.
  • Rotation between grass and broadleaf crops also can help control kochia. Winter wheat is highly recommended for suppressing the weed.1
  • Over the past few years, South Dakota has been experiencing heavy drought pressure — worsening the prevalence of yield-robbing kochia populations and posing a significant threat for growers in the area. Austin Handel, a South Dakota rancher, found weed control success on his heavy kochia acres by implementing the Enlist® weed control system. Being able to apply more modes of action throughout the summer gives Handel power over kochia and other challenging weeds. Check out this video to learn more about Handel used the Enlist® system to control kochia and achieve higher yield results.


    Consult your local Corteva Agriscience representative for more insights on kochia management in your area. 


    1United Soybean Board. 2023. Kochia.

    2Casey, P.A. 2009. Plant Fact Sheet for kochia (Kochia scoparia).


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