Giant ragweed has been increasing as a major weed of row crops in the last 30 yr, but quantitative data regarding its pattern and mechanisms of spread in crop fields are lacking. To address this gap, we conducted a Web-based survey of certified crop advisors in the U.S. Corn Belt and Ontario, Canada. Participants were asked questions regarding giant ragweed and crop production practices for the county of their choice. Responses were mapped and correlation analyses were conducted among the responses to determine factors associated with giant ragweed populations. Respondents rated giant ragweed as the most or one of the most difficult weeds to manage in 45% of 421 U.S. counties responding, and 57% of responding counties reported giant ragweed populations with herbicide resistance to acetolactate synthase inhibitors, glyphosate, or both herbicides. Results suggest that giant ragweed is increasing in crop fields outward from the east-central U.S. Corn Belt in most directions. Crop production practices associated with giant ragweed populations included minimum tillage, continuous soybean, and multiple-application herbicide programs; ecological factors included giant ragweed presence in noncrop edge habitats, early and prolonged emergence, and presence of the seed-burying common earthworm in crop fields. Managing giant ragweed in noncrop areas could reduce giant ragweed migration from noncrop habitats into crop fields and slow its spread. Where giant ragweed is already established in crop fields, including a more diverse combination of crop species, tillage practices, and herbicide sites of action will be critical to reduce populations, disrupt emergence patterns, and select against herbicide-resistant giant ragweed genotypes. Incorporation of a cereal grain into the crop rotation may help suppress early giant ragweed emergence and provide chemical or mechanical control options for late-emerging giant ragweed.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; giant ragweed; Ambrosia trifida L. AMBTR; common earthworm; Lumbricus terrestris L.; corn; Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.