Weed Control in Organic Vegetable Production: The Use of Sweet Corn Transplants and Vinegar

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  • 1 1University of Minnesota, Horticultural Science, 223 Alderman Hall, St. Paul, MN, 55108
  • | 2 2Southwest State University, Southwest Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton, MN, 56512
  • | 3 3Farm, Foxtail Farm, Shafer, MN, 55074

Weed control in organic vegetable production is a major challenge. During Summer 2004, we conducted field trials to manage weeds in organic sweet corn, carrots and onions. In sweet corn, we evaluated the efficacy of transplanting greenhouse-grown sweet corn seedlings. In carrots and onions, we tested vinegar and several concentrations of acetic acid. Studies were conducted in southwestern Minnesota at the Lamberton Research and Outreach Center and in eastern Minnesota at Foxtail Farm in Shaefer. Ten-day-old corn transplants were effective at both locations. Stand establishment was greater, less tillage was needed, and yield was greater than in the seeded plots. Straight vinegar was not very effective in controlling weed populations. Although there was greater damage to broadleaf weeds than grasses, straight vinegar did not reduce the need for tillage. Although 10% to 20% acetic acid did provide better weed control, it significantly damaged carrot and onion seedlings. These results suggest that using sweet corn transplants is time and cost effective for small acreage sweet corn production such as CSAs. Vinegar and acetic acid are problematic. Nonselectivity, potential danger in handling, and poor control at low concentrations were all considered significant disadvantages.

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