Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superweed!
Alright, that’s not what you were expecting, but I doubt the serious-minded researchers that comprise the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) never expected to have to define a word intentionally crafted to be sensational and exaggerated either.
As the WSSA points out, the use of superweed has snowballed in recent years along with considerable misinformation that isn’t supported by scientific facts. Most online dictionaries, for example, associate superweeds with herbici de resistance caused by the suspected transfer of resistance genes from crops to weeds. To date, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that crop to weed gene transfer is contributing to the herbicide resistance issues faced by farmers.
“Since superweed is now clearly part of the public vernacular, we decided to offer a definition that more clearly reflects the true source of herbicide resistance,” says Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., WSSA science policy director.
My thoughts, unfortunately, run along the lines of, “Good luck with that.” I can’t blame them for trying, but when the primary purpose is to be attention- grabbing with outrageous and overly dramatic phrasing, will an actual definition register with potential users? Still, the WSSA is to be commended for attempting such a feat when the typical response is to just let it continue.
Here’s the WSSA definition, “Superweed: Slang used to describe a weed that has evolved characteristics that make it more difficult to manage due to repeated use of the same management tactic. Over-dependence on a single tactic as opposed to using diverse approaches can lead to such adaptations.”
And, if one of these superweeds pops up in your fields this spring, have no fear. You can always be like Thor and bring the hammer down on them!