Stale Seedbed Practices for Vegetable Production

in HortScience

Effects of several stale seedbed procedures on weed density and biomass were evaluated on a silt loam soil in central New York. After an initial rotary tillage, weeds were allowed to emerge and either single or multiple applications of glyphosate, propane flame, spring tine weeder, springtooth harrow, or rotary tiller were used to kill the weeds over a 4-week period. The last (or only) application occurred immediately prior to simulated seeding of a crop performed by passing an empty seeder through the plots. These stale seedbed treatments were compared with a control consisting of a single rotary tillage just before simulated planting. Flaming or glyphosate stale seedbed techniques significantly reduced density and biomass of the principal broadleaf species, common purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) and common chickweed [Stellaria media (L.) Cyrillo], in most cases. A single delayed flame or glyphosate stale seedbed treatment was usually as effective as multiple treatments. None of the stale seedbed techniques was effective against yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.). A flexible tine weeder was not effective as a stale seedbed weed-killing treatment in this study because of poor penetration of crusted soil. Penetration was better with a springtooth harrow, but this failed to reduce weed density. None of the stale seedbed treatments fully controlled weeds. However, glyphosate or flaming a stale seedbed could be incorporated into integrated weed management programs to improve control and reduce the need for herbicides. Broadleaf weed density within 3.8 cm of the center of the seeder wheel track was greater than elsewhere in the plot. Chemical name used: N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine (glyphosate).

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