“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” That truism applies a lot in farming, including weed control. Farmers need to know what species of weed – and how many – are in a given field before they can map out a solution.

Sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. After all, there are dozens upon dozens of weed species that can invade a particular field.

Start by learning more about these six common yield-robbing broadleaf species.

They’re overall easy to recognize, but correct identification of the exact species can be trickier. Look for tall plants with alternate leaves with an oval or diamond shape and clusters of small, greenish flowers.

Look for flowers arranged in a branched cluster of many white and yellow flowers. Initially, seedlings grow as a ground-hugging rosette, with oval leaves. It is sometimes misidentified as mouse-ear chickweed, shepherd’s purse or annual fleabane.

This plant’s sheer height can become problematic if it blocks sunlight from reaching crops. It’s also a host for several troublesome diseases and insect pests. Look for large, heart-shaped leaves with pointed tips. As it’s name suggests, velvetleaf leaves have a velvety feel. Plants, have distinct, unpleasant odor when crushed.

This weed is a winter annual that can become a perennial under the right environmental conditions. Leaves are arranged in an opposite pattern, and are elliptical and mostly hairless. Look for small white flowers at the end of the stems.

Look for plants with numerous slender, wiry stems that mat together to create a zigzag appearance. The flower heads have tiny green flowers with pink or white edges. Knotweed is adapted to thrive even in poor or compacted soils.

Giant ragweed has earned its name by being able to grow as tall as 15 feet. Plants have a distinctive vertical and branching growth habit. The leaves are the most distinguishable part of the plant, with deeply feathered patterns (almost resembling parsley).

Worried about other weed species? There are several free online resources to help identify weeds, including digital guides from the University of Missouri and the University of Wisconsin.

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