Weed science is an important component of pest management. Weeds cause approximately 12% loss in United States crop production, reduce crop quality, poison livestock, and adversely affect human health, recreation, and transportation. Herbicides comprise approximately 65% of pesticide expenditures, whereas insecticides and fungicides each comprise less than 20%. The total effect of weeds, including crop losses and costs of control, in the United States was estimated in 1994 to be $20 billion annually. A survey was prepared and mailed to weed scientists at universities and experiment stations in the northeastern United States to determine the number of faculty positions and course offerings devoted to weed science. There are approximately five times as many entomologists and more than three times as many plant pathologists as weed scientists at universities in the northeast. There are more than six times as many graduate students currently in entomology and more than four times as many in plant pathology compared with weed science. Few undergraduate courses in weed science are taught, and most universities have no graduate classes in weed science. There are almost seven times as many undergraduate entomology courses and more than twice as many plant pathology courses as weed science classes in this region. There are more than 17 times as many graduate entomology courses and more than 15 times as many plant pathology courses compared with weed science graduate classes. There are no departments devoted solely to weed science in the northeast, whereas entomology and plant pathology departments are both common. Most universities have little to no faculty assigned to aquatic, forestry, noncrop weed control, weed ecology, or laboratory trials, and numbers assigned to agronomic and horticultural crop weed management are limited. Additional university resources are needed if weed science research, teaching, and extension efforts are to meet the priority needs in weed management.
Additional index words: Entomology, faculty positions, graduate classes, graduate students, plant pathology, undergraduate classes.
Abbreviation: FTE, full-time equivalents.