Suspected 2,4-D Resistant Waterhemp Population Discovered

February 13, 2024
ICM News

We know the evolution of resistance in waterhemp populations happens faster than new herbicides are discovered, so the recent report of dicamba resistant waterhemp in Iowa by Bayer was not unexpected. Corteva has now reported the discovery of a suspected 2,4-D resistant waterhemp population in Iowa. These reports emphasize the need to use herbicides wisely and diversify weed management tactics beyond herbicides, especially as more farmers rely on herbicide group (HG) 4-based postemergence weed control in both corn and soybean.

The particulars

In late January 2024, Corteva reported the discovery of a suspected 2,4-D resistant waterhemp population in 2022 in Wright County, Iowa. A Corteva employee collected two samples of waterhemp seed, one from plants in the field and one from plants growing in the ditch adjacent to the field. While greenhouse testing with seed collected from plants in the field did not confirm resistance, plants grown from the ditch population are suspected to be 2,4-D resistant. The communication reported that the ditch had a multi-year history of 2,4-D application to manage broadleaf weeds. Corteva will continue evaluation of the populations in the greenhouse and the field. If resistance is confirmed in this population, it will become at least the fourth report of 2,4-D resistance in waterhemp, joining prior reports from Nebraska in 2009 (Bernards et al. 2012), Illinois in 2016 (Evans et al. 2019), and Missouri in 2018 (Shergill et al. 2018).

Iowa State University screened populations of waterhemp against several herbicides in 2019 at their 1X rates (Table 1). On average, waterhemp exhibited 17% survival to 2,4-D, 5% survival to dicamba, and 4% survival to glufosinate (Hamberg et al. 2023). We are rapidly losing herbicide options for postemergence control of waterhemp.

Table 1. 1X rates used for 2019 waterhemp screening. (Hamberg et al. 2023)
Herbicide active ingredient Herbicide trade name Application rate Postemergence label use rate1
2,4-D Enlist One 1.5 pt. 2.0 pt.
Dicamba Xtendimax 22 fl. oz. 22 fl. oz.
Glufosinate Liberty 29 fl. oz. 32-43 fl. oz.
1For labeled applications in herbicide tolerant soybean  

Best management practices to slow resistance development

Now is the time to evaluate how to improve weed management in fields. While herbicides will remain the primary tactic to manage weeds, farmers can implement several best management practices to slow herbicide resistance evolution and improve control of weeds like waterhemp.

  1. Choose an effective herbicide program for the weed spectrum present on a field-by-field basis.
    1. Use full rates of effective residual herbicides and plant into a weed-free seedbed.
    2. Include overlapping residual herbicides and multiple effective herbicide groups in postemergence applications to provide longer waterhemp control. Consult manufacturers for specific tank-mix recommendations.
    3. Make timely applications and choose appropriate adjuvants, nozzles, application volume, etc.
    4. Scout fields 7-10 days after postemergence herbicide applications to evaluate weed control.
  2. Use a diversity of weed management tactics, including chemical, mechanical, and cultural options. Narrow row spacing, cover crops, more diverse crop rotations, and tillage are effective tactics to suppress waterhemp.
  3. Control weed escapes prior to seed production to reduce future weed populations and prevent resistance from spreading.
  4. Reduce influx of weed seed into crop fields by managing weeds in field edges and cleaning equipment between movement from problematic fields to clean fields. The detection reported here indicates the threat of weeds in field edges.

Reporting suspected herbicide-resistant populations

Please report incidences of non-performance of products to the chemical manufacturer. This scenario is an example of the effective coordination and response that can occur when performance concerns are quickly addressed. 

While Iowa State University does not currently have the capability to test suspected herbicide-resistant populations, please report suspected HG 4-, HG 10-, or HG 15-resistant waterhemp populations to Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She can be reached at or 319-331-0058.


Bernards M.L., Crespo R.J., Kruger G.R., Gaussoin R., Tranel P.J. A Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) Population Resistant to 2,4-D. Weed Science. 2012;60(3):379-384. doi:10.1614/WS-D-11-00170.1

Evans C.M., Strom S.A., Riechers D.E., Davis A.S., Tranel P.J., Hager A.G. (2019) Characterization of a waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) population from Illinois resistant to herbicides from five site-of-action groups. Weed Technol 33: 400–410. doi: 10.1017/wet.2019.19

Hamberg, R.C., Yadav, R., Owen, M.D.K., and Licht, M.A. 2023. Differential susceptibility of Iowa waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) populations to 2,4-D, dicamba, and glufosinate. Can. J. Plant Sci. 103: 595-599. doi:10.1139/cjps-2023-0081

Shergill L.S., Barlow B.R., Bish M.D., and Bradley K.W. (2018) Investigations of 2,4-D and Multiple Herbicide Resistance in a Missouri Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) Population. Weed Sci. doi: 10.1017/wsc.2017.82

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on February 13, 2024. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.


Meaghan Anderson Field Agronomist in Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson is a field agronomist in central Iowa and an extension field specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Educational programming is available for farmers, agribusinesses, pesticide applicators, certified crop advisors, and other individuals interested in...