How Many Weeds Do You Grow?

Published online: May 05, 2003
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A quasi-governmental research agency and think tank has estimated that a total of 550 trillion weeds are grown on 220 million acres used to produce 40 major food crops in the United States each year.

The National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy says it takes 410 million pounds of synthetic herbicides to kill those weeds.

NCFAP estimated that total crop loss without use of the herbicides would drop by 21 percent, equaling a 228-billion pound loss of food and fiber.

If producers could not pass along their increased costs to buyers, the $7.7 billion increased production costs for less effective alternatives combined with lost production valued at $13.3 billion would result in a 40 percent net income drop of $21 billion.

The NCFAP says the lost production could be made up with increased imports, but that would mean a $13.3 billion worsening of the trade balance.

CropLife America funded the research, which is endorsed by 27 U.S. commodity and farm group organizations.