(416) Weed Management in Organic Sweet Corn

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  • 1 Kentucky State University, Community Research Service, Frankfort, KY, 40601

Organic weed control in direct seeded vegetables depends on management strategies that control weed germination or growth which depletes the weed seedbank. In 2004, a randomized complete-block experiment conducted on land transitioning to organic production examined the effects of tillage and control treatments on weed pressure in sweet corn [Zeamays (L.) cv. Silver Queen]. The two tillage treatments consisted of conventional (moldboard and rototill) and spader tillage. Weed control treatments included a weed free control, a spring-tine weeder, rolling cultivator, row flamer, stale seedbed, and corn gluten meal. In August, the weed infestation was primarily goose grass [Eleusineindica (L.) Gaertn.], crab grass [Digitariasanguinalis (L.) Scop.], giant foxtail (Setariafaberi Herrm.), and smooth pigweed [Amaranthushybridus (L.)] species. Dried weed weights indicated that smooth pigweed constituted about 80% of the total weed biomass in all but the control and flamer treatments. Plots managed with the spring-tine weeder or corn gluten had twice the weed biomass of those managed with the rolling cultivator and flamer. The rolling cultivator and control treatments produced equivalent husked corn yields (6.9 t·ha-1); yields were reduced by the other weed control methods. At 5.4 t·ha-1, yields in the flamer treatment were the lowest among all weed control methods. The flamer suppressed both weeds and the crop, which may preclude its utility for sweet corn production. Results demonstrated that the rolling cultivator provided the best weed control without negatively affecting potential yields.

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