Source: Aaron Hager, University of Illinois

If you are starting to see purple in the fields, don't worry. Your eyes aren't fooling you. Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist said several winter annual weed species have begun to flower early this spring.

"It seems as though each new growing season is in some way a bit different than the last," Hager said. "A timely harvest in 2010 may have helped promote earlier fall emergence of several winter annual weed species, which could have improved their overwintering survival. Add in a few days of warm temperatures in March and early April and these splashes of color are now livening up the otherwise drab Illinois landscape."

The two winter annual weed species producing the "purple patches" are henbit and purple deadnettle. Although close relatives taxonomically, henbit and purple deadnettle are distinctively different, Hager said. 

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