Mechanical Removal of Summer Dodder Infestations and Impacts on Cranberry Yield

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  • 1 Maryland Cooperative Extension, Worcester County, P.O. 219, Snow Hill, MD 21863.
  • | 2 University of Massachusetts, Department of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences, Bowditch Hall, Amherst, MA 01002.
  • | 3 UMass-Amherst Cranberry Station, P.O. Box 569, East Wareham, MA 02538.

Over a 2-year period, 11 cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) farms in southeastern Massachusetts were selected to evaluate mechanical removal of swamp dodder (Cuscuta gronovii) with a conventional hand-held bamboo rake. This technique consisted of breaking and removing large strands of the parasite that connected host plants; embedded and encircled portions of the parasite were not removed. Differences in dodder biomass, cranberry yield, and berry weight were determined in plots that received zero, one, or two weed-removal events. Removing dodder one time per season reduced percentage of weed cover by more than 74% in both years. Impacts on dodder fresh and dry weight were not as discernible. Removal initially decreased dodder biomass, which remained 20% to 40% lower than the baseline values, but removal treatments did not differ statistically from the control. No additional benefits were obtained by removing the weed cover more than once. Biomass per berry was not affected by mechanical weed removal and fruit of marketable size were produced in the treated area. Substantial yield loss was largely attributable to the dodder infestations, but multiple removals may eventually reduce yield to levels below those associated with infestations alone.

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