Horseweed is a winter or summer annual plant, native to North America and distributed worldwide in temperate climates. This plant is considered an important agricultural weed because it can reduce agricultural yields by 90% at high densities and becomes problematic under low-tillage agriculture. Seed production is robust with an estimated 200,000 seeds produced per plant, and seed dispersal is wind-assisted. The confirmation of glyphosate-resistant horseweed in Delaware in 2001 and the rapid spread of the resistant biotype, currently covering more than 44,000 ha, has necessitated a change in the discussion about weed dispersal. Large radio-controlled airplanes were used to sample the lower atmosphere for the presence of horseweed seeds during a 3-d period in early September 2005 in southern Delaware. The collection of multiple seeds at heights ranging from 41 to 140 m above ground level strongly suggests that horseweed seeds are entering the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) of the atmosphere, where long-ranged transport of aerial biota frequently occurs. With wind speeds in the PBL frequently exceeding 20 m s−1, seed dispersal can easily exceed 500 km in a single dispersal event.
Nomenclature: Horseweed, Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq.