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  • Author or Editor: Bernard H. Zandstra x
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A self-administered response to production-related questions, based on the most recent recommendations for the production of asparagus, was used to identify strengths and weaknesses of growers on an individual or group basis. Points were assigned to the various responses, and growers were evaluated relative to the group of respondents. Individual grower evaluation summaries were returned to the county horticultural agent for use in individual grower consultations. This report discusses the specific issues related to asparagus production and presents factors to be considered in preparing and evaluating such a tool.

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Dry bulb onion (Allium cepa) leaves may not dry down normally and bulbs may not attain dormancy during adverse growing seasons. An effective method of artificial leaf desiccation is needed to complement mechanical harvesting and onion conditioning for storage. Desiccants were tested in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003 on onion leaves prior to harvest, and bulb quality was evaluated after 5 months or more of storage. Carfentrazone, diquat, and paraquat desiccated onion foliage well but increased bulb rot and reduced the percentage of marketable bulbs after storage. Bromoxynil and endothall desiccated onion foliage significantly without inducing rot or reducing the percentage of marketable bulbs. Copper sulfate and pelargonic acid increased desiccation of onion foliage but were not sufficiently effective for field use. Neither reduced the percentage of marketable bulbs. If bromoxynil or endothall were labelled for onion desiccation, they could be applied 10-14 days before harvest to enhance natural leaf senescence and facilitate mechanical harvest.

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Experiments were conducted to test a new herbicide for posttransplant application in Christmas trees. A premix containing 68.6% hexazinone and 6.5% sulfometuron-methyl was applied at 3.0, 4.5, 6.0, 7.5, and 9.0 oz/acre plus 0.25% v/v nonionic surfactant (NIS) to recently transplanted fraser fir (Abies fraseri) Christmas trees and trees transplanted for 1 year in Spring 2008. The treatments were repeated on the same plots in 2009 and 2010. At Gobles, MI, trees treated with 7.5 oz/acre of hexazinone plus sulfometuron had increased stem diameter, after one growing season, and trees treated with 9.0 oz/acre had reduced leader length the second year. After 3 years, fraser fir trees treated with hexazinone plus sulfometuron at 9.0 oz/acre had reduced tree height. Stem diameter, leader length, and number of leader buds were not statistically different from the untreated control. At Horton, MI, trees treated with 9.0 oz/acre of hexazinone plus sulfometuron had reduced leader length after 1, 2, and 3 years. After 3 years, trees treated with hexazinone plus sulfometuron at 6.0, 7.5, and 9.0 oz/acre were shorter than the untreated controls. There were no differences from the untreated trees in stem diameter of trees treated with hexazinone plus sulfometuron after 3 years.

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A field study was conducted to evaluate fumigant alternatives for methyl bromide (MB). Iodomethane (IM), chloropicrin (CP), 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), metham sodium (MS), and MB in various combinations were applied to a sandy soil field site in Sept. 2002. Some treatments were tarped. Plant injury, plant growth, fresh weight, and dry weight were evaluated for seven ornamental species: cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’), common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’), hosta (Hosta ‘Twilight PP14040’), silvermound artemisia (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum ‘Snow Lady’), and thread leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’). Weed control was evaluated in Apr. 2003, July 2003, and May 2004. All treatments gave almost complete control of all annual weeds, except for IM 50% + CP 50% (200 lb/acre, tarped) and MS (75 gal/acre, 1:4 water, not tarped), which did not give adequate control of common chickweed (Stellaria media), mouseear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), or common purslane (Portulaca oleracea). None of the treatments caused visual injury to any crop species. Treatments did not affect plant size in Nov. 2003. However, some treatments resulted in larger thread leaf coreopsis and silvermound artemisia plants in May 2004. There was no difference in dry weight at harvest between treatments for all species.

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Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a perennial crop that has a 12- to 20-year production life in the field. Herbicides are applied in the spring each year and again after final harvest in early summer. Asparagus yield declines with age, and herbicides may contribute to yield decline. An experiment was established in 2004 and maintained for seven years with the same herbicide treatments applied each spring to determine herbicide effects on marketable spear yield. Spring-applied diuron, metribuzin, terbacil, sulfentrazone, halosulfuron, mesotrione, and clomazone had no adverse effect on yield or quality over the seven years of the experiment. Flumioxazin reduced yearly average marketable yield compared with standard treatments, and some spears developed lesions early in the season after rainfall. Asparagus yield from most treatments declined more than 50% from 2004 to 2010.

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