Despite the cool summer, plenty of weeds were entered in the ‘Biggest Weed’ contest sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Extension/Madison Weed Experts at the recent Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. Of the many samples brought in for identification, eight participants submitted nine weeds they felt deserved the title of Biggest Weed.
“While none of the samples topped the 13 foot mark like last year, several were quite wide, making up for the lack of height,” said Mark Renz, University of Wisconsin-Extension/Madison weed specialist. “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 that was over 10 feet tall and seven feet wide. The overall size of the plant is determined by multiplying the weed’s height by the maximum width when held in its normal growth form.
Renz said, “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, more than 12 feet, but only four feet wide. 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,” Renz noted, “So apparently having a structure nearby helps. Remember this tip when we hold the event next year at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Dane County.”
All daily winners will receive a weed identification book, as thanks for hauling these winning specimens to Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. Anyone who has tried to bring in one of these plants can attest that it is no easy task.
For more information about identifying and controlling weeds in your field or yard, contact your local county Extension agent or visit the University of Wisconsin Weed Science website at http://fyi.uwex.edu/weedsci.