A Tidbit About Henbit

While we’re used to seeing various shades of green in our imagery, right now, a sea of hazy purple is gracing our screens. So, what’s going on?

Since identification is the crucial first step in the field of weed science, we sent scouts to verify the weed pressure detected by our weed algorithm, and the hazy purple we’re seeing is henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).

The cool wet conditions that kept us out of the field early on this growing season were ideal for henbit to establish and have led to the increased pressure of the weed across the Midwest. Though not a particularly troublesome weed, it can pose a threat to crops if it gets out of hand.

Henbit has a fibrous root system that is generally non-competitive for nutrients but can pose a threat for moisture competition if conditions are dry during emergence. While it won’t stay a problem for long—completing its life-cycle as temperatures continue to climb, flowering and going to seed with up to 2,000 seeds per plant, large stands of henbit can serve as an alternative host for SCN in soybean rotations and corn earworm in corn rotations.

An area treated for weeds shows some henbit dying off, while some persistss. Monitor weed escapes with AgMRI’s change algorithm.

Already, IntelinAir’s weed detection has alerted to areas of significant henbit pressure to direct early-season sprays, and the Change algorithm has detected areas where those sprays have been successful, as opposed to areas where henbit may not be responding to chemical application.

Finally, why is it called henbit? Most sources are quick to point out the plant is a known forage for chickens. Less notably, henbit is also edible for humans, but don’t sample this plant in a field you’ve recently sprayed!