Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is an increasingly important weed in strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa), a crop in which open space within and between rows is susceptible to infestations. Cultivation, hand hoeing, and registered herbicide are only partially effective in controlling common groundsel, and tolerance or resistance to herbicides is common in this species. Field and greenhouse studies were conducted to identify and select herbicides for controlling common groundsel in newly planted strawberries. Herbicides applied to strawberries within 1 week after planting in 2000 were: terbacil and simazine alone and tank mixed with napropamide; pendimethalin, dimethenamid, metolachlor, ethofumesate and sulfentrazone. Based on selectivity and efficacy observed in this preliminary experiment, sulfentrazone and flumiclorac were selected for further evaluation in 2001 and 2002. Strawberry tolerance of sulfentrazone and flumiclorac 1, 3, 6, and 18 weeks after application (WAA) was similar to that of the registered herbicides terbacil and napropamide, but injury was greater than in hand weeded plots. Plants sprayed with 300 g·ha–1 (4.3 oz/acre) sulfentrazone produced yields similar to terbacil treated plants, but with less plant stunting. Tolerance of newly planted `Allstar' and `Jewel' was affected by the interaction of soil pH and sulfentrazone rate. Plant stunting 3 WAA increased with sulfentrazone rate, reaching 68 and 61% in `Allstar' and `Jewel', respectively, with the highest rate [400 g·ha–1 (5.7 oz/acre)] and high soil pH (7). `Allstar' grown in low pH (5) and treated with sulfentrazone (400 g·ha–1) showed only 8% stunting, whereas `Jewel' was not stunted 3 WAA at the same rate and pH. Both cultivars recovered (50% less stunting) from the severe injury observed when sulfentrazone was applied to high pH soils. However, at low pH both cultivars were stunted more at 6 WAA than at 3 WAA. Plant diameter for both cultivars was 25% higher when they were grown in the lower soil pH. Fruit yield was not affected by the sulfentrazone rates evaluated (0 to 400 g·ha–1). Sulfentrazone was active at four stages of common groundsel growth: preemergence (PRE), cotyledon (COT), early post (EPOST) seedlings at the four-leaf stage, and late post (LPOST) seedlings at the10-leaf stage. The calculated 50% growth reduction (GR50) value for PRE and COT stages was 50 g·ha–1 (0.7 oz/acre), whereas the GR50 for EPOST and LPOST stages was 100 g·ha–1 (1.4 oz/acre). Sulfentrazone controlled common groundsel when applied PRE and COT, but at EPOST and LPOST stages sulfentrazone did not provide complete control, although plant height was reduced 80% to 90% compared to untreated plants. Results indicated that common groundsel is controlled in the field with 150 and 300 g·ha–1 (2.1 and 4.3 oz/acre) of sulfentrazone applied before seedling emergence. The least strawberry injury occurred when sulfentrazone was applied immediately after transplanting at 150 and 300 g·ha–1, although crop tolerance was reduced under conditions of high soil pH (>6.5) and varied with cultivar.
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