Common ragweed: an emerging threat for sunflower production and human health in Turkey.
Common ragweed invasion poses serious risks to human health, biodiversity and agricultural production throughout the world. Although ragweed has an enormous potential to expand its range in Turkey, studies on ragweed have only concentrated on the Black Sea region. An exploratory survey was conducted to observe the level of ragweed occurrence on the nodes of predecided 10×10 km grids in the Thrace region of Turkey. Ragweed populations were observed in 44 out of 129 sites in a wide range of habitats, including roadsides, pastures, agricultural fields and non-agricultural areas. The highest levels of ragweed infestation were recorded in the agricultural fields, followed by the roadsides. The most-invaded crop was sunflower. The sunflower fields had the highest ragweed coverage as well and invasion even resulted in crop failure alongside the field borders. A spatial analysis of the data indicated that ragweed exhibited an aggregated pattern over the Thrace region. Ragweed distribution was not associated with the characteristics of the soils, which had a varying range of pH, electrical conductivity and texture. The results revealed that ragweed invasion can arise as a serious weed problem, interfering with the sustainability of sunflower production in Thrace and other sunflower-producing regions of the country. A high degree of ragweed infestation also will contribute to the pollen level counts for the most crowded cities in the region, posing a serious danger to human health.