When studying weeds we are often presented with new challenges, which keeps things interesting. A couple of weeks ago we received two feed samples (cotton seed covered with fiber) to examine. We were looking to see if we could find any weed seeds to determine if this is a possible way new weeds are entering Michigan (either before or after digestion). Being that we never work with cotton, it became an exercise in creativity to figure out how we could get weed seeds out of the fiber. We tried mechanical separation with a rub board, wet sieving, and burning. To see if burning would be an effective method we did a test with a cotton ball and some redroot pigweed seed. Pigweed seeds started flying out of the container we had them in and when we looked closely they resembled popped corn. Maybe there is a niche market for such a delicacy? After ruling out burning, we finally had success using sulfuric acid to dissolve the fiber and did in fact find some weed seeds; though they were species we already have in Michigan.
Weedy Wonder of the Week: Popped pigweed (4.30.12)
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