Writer: Beth Ann Luedeker
Contact: Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, [email protected]

Members of the Texas A&M weeds judging team represented our university and department well at the 2018 Southern Weed Science Society contest in Memphis, Tennessee, last month.

a group of people in light blue shirts
The 2018 Texas A&M Weeds Judging team included (l to r): Dr. Vijay Singh, asst. coach; Carson Wade, Prabhu Govindasamy, Blake Young, Cynthia Sias, Spencer Samuelson, Aniruddha Maity, Austin Kelly, James Griffin, Seth Abugho and Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan.

The Aggie A-Team finished fourth out of 12 teams representing ten colleges and universities.

Prabhu Govindasamy, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan , turned in a perfect score in the herbicide symptomology competition to share top honors with two other students from other universities. He was also the 4th high individual in the weed identification portion of the contest.

Cynthia Sias and Prabhu Govinasamy solving test questions.
Cynthia Sias and Prabhu Govindasamy work on the written portion of the sprayer calibration event during the SWSS contest.

Seth Abhugo, another Ph.D. student under Bagavathiannan, was the second high point individual in weed identification. In this portion of the contest, team members identify 50 weeds and/or weed seeds by both the common and scientific names.

Seth Abugho examining at plant leaf
Seth Abugho looks closely at a plant’s characteristics during the weed identification portion of the SWSS contest.

Spencer Samuelson, also a Ph.D. student under Bagavathiannan, placed 11th out of the 51 graduate students who competed. He was closely followed by James Griffin, a Ph.D. student under Dr. Gaylon Morgan, who placed 12th.

“Participation in the weed judging provides our students with an excellent opportunity to learn applied aspects of weed management and to network with other weed science colleagues in the southern region,” said Bagavathiannan, assistant professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at TAMU and the team’s head coach.

Three people in a field
James Griffin talkes to judges during the “farmer problem” portion of the contest.

Two graduate teams and an undergraduate individual from TAMU competed at the contest. Aggie Team-A consisted of Abugho, Govindasamy, Griffin and Samuelson. Team-B included Aniruddha Maity, a Ph.D. student under Bagavathiannan; Carson Wade, a Master’s student under Dr. Julie Howe; Blake Young and Cynthia Sias, both Master’s students under Bagavathiannan. The lone undergraduate was Austin Kelly, an ecosystem science major.

Assisting Bagavathiannan with the coaching this year were Dr. Vijay Singh, Spencer Samuelson, Seth Abhugo, and Prabhu Govindasamy.

The contest consists of four major events - weed identification, sprayer calibration (comprised of an individual written test and a team calibration event), crop/weed response to herbicides (symptomology), and crop/weed situation and recommendations (farmer problem) - plus a mystery event. In this year’s mystery event, the students were expected to find safety hazards caused by errors in the way a tractor and spray rig were loaded on a trailer.

Blake Young holding small jar containing weed seeds
Blake Young examines seeds during the weed identification portion of the contest.
Four young men at a table taking a test
Four members of the Aggie teams work on the written test during the SWSS contest.