Integrative Approaches for Weed Management in Organic Citrus Orchards

in HortScience

Lack of effective weed control may hamper organic citrus establishment. Cover crop/weed biomass (CCW) indices were used to assess the effectiveness of annual and perennial cover crops (CC) in reducing weed growth. The CCW values for perennial peanut (PP) were 0.06, 0.14, 0.4, and 0.5 during 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, respectively (very poor to poor weed control). Initial PP growth was slow and repeated mowing was required, but, over time, PP became more effective in controlling weeds. Weed biomass with sunn hemp was 0.3 Mg/ha in 2002 (CCW = 25, outstanding weed control) compared to 1.4 Mg/ha with use of cowpea (CCW = 1) in 2004. In 2004, the dry weights (Mg/ha) for different summer CC were: hairy indigo = 7.6, pigeon pea = 7.6, sunn hemp = 5.3, cowpea = 5.1, alyce clover = 2.9, velvet bean = 1.3, and lablab bean = 0.8. Corresponding 2005 values were: 9.5, 3.7, 12.6, 1.0, 1.9, and 1.4. Respective CCWI values were: 7, 4, 2, 16, 28, 0.6, and 0.3 (2004) vs. 17, 2, 64, 80, 0.5, 2, and 14. In 2004, winter CC production (Mg/ha) was radish (R) = 3.2, crimson clover (CR) = 1.7, oats (O) + lupine = 1.6, and rye (WR)/vetch (V) mix = 1.1. Results for 2005 were: CR + R + WR = 8.0, WR = 6.0; CR + WR = 5.3, CR = 5.0, CR + O + WR = 5.0, R = 4.3, and O = 3.6 Mg/ha. Corresponding values for CCW-indices were 15, 2, 1, and 3 (2004) and 100, 25, 76, 35, 62, 11, and 16 (2005). Although OMRI-approved herbicides showed up to 84% weed injury for selected species, none of these products provided long-term weed control. Combination of repeated tillage, use of compact/reseeding CC mixes in tree rows, more vigorous annual CC and/or perennial PP in row middle and repeated use of organic herbicides near sprinklers and tree trunks are thus required to ensure effective weed suppression in organic citrus.

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