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Rodrigo Figueroa, Douglas Doohan, and John Cardina

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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Amy Barr, Mark Bennett, and John Cardina

The objective of this study was to ascertain if stand establishment of sh2 sweet corn (Zea mays L.) would benefit from variable planting depths determined by the use of geographic information systems (GIS). Spring and fall research plots were established in a field [80 × 20 m (262 × 66 ft)] containing Crosby silt loam and Kokomo silty clay loam soil series in Columbus, Ohio. Three sh2 sweet corn cultivars (Starship, Skyline, and Confection) were planted at three depths on the two soil types in the fall study, with an additional transition soil added in the spring. Emergence counts as well as soil moisture and temperature were monitored. In the spring, sites were also sampled for nutrient levels and soil compaction. Significant variability was found within the field with respect to soil moisture, temperature, nutrient levels, and compaction. Seedling emergence fluctuated with average soil moisture increasing in blocks with up to 24% moisture and then leveling off. Daily minimum soil temperatures impacted stand establishment. Although heat units accumulated faster on the Crosby soil, emergence was slower and less complete on these soil series than on Kokomo soil series. Further investigation determined that although temperatures of the Crosby soil were 3 to 4.5 °C (5.4 to 8.1 °F) warmer during the day than the Kokomo soil, temperatures on the Crosby soil averaged 2 °C (3.6 °F) cooler at night. Analysis of emergence patterns and field variability was performed on ArcView mapping software. Although `Skyline' planted at 2 cm (0.8 inches) had the best emergence overall, final stand would have been increased with `Skyline' planted variably at 2 and 4 cm (1.6 inches). Mapping the field under these different scenarios showed that although area with less than 70% stand would exist with a 2-cm uniform planting depth, the entire field would have a stand of 70% or greater with variable planting depth using a high vigor seedlot.

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Jing Luo, David Tay, and John Cardina

Exotic noxious plants, including invasive plants and exotic weeds, have caused huge economic loss and ecological damage around the world. To prevent further introductions of such species as crops or ornamental plants, biological and ecological traits associated with invasiveness and weediness need to be identified so that prediction can be made on the potential of being noxious for proposed species. It was suggested that weeds were usually generalists that can survive and reproduce in a wide range of environments; i.e., they were quite “plastic” in response to different environments. In accordance to this idea, phenotypic plasticity has been recently proposed as an indicator and predictor for weeds and invasive plants. This hypothesis is tested using two exotic dandelion species: Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion), widespread weed, and T. laevigatum (red-seeded dandelion), which occurs in a much lower frequency in Ohio. A greenhouse experiment was conducted in which the two species were grown in two soil moisture levels (dry vs. wet) combined with two light exposure levels (full sun vs. shade). Various traits were measured to see whether T. officinale is more plastic than T. laevigatum in these four environments. The results show that, when using coefficient of variance (CV) as a measurement of plasticity, T. officinale has significantly larger CV than T. laevigatum in plant diameter (P = 0.02), shoot: root ratio (P = 0.04) and soil pH (P = 0.02). This indicates that T. officinale is more plastic in some of the resource-capture-related traits such as leaf morphology and biomass allocation, and presumably also in root exudates, which alter the soil pH.

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Lynn Marie Sosnoskie*, John Cardina, Catherine Papp Herms, and Matthew Kleinhenz

Community composition of the soil seedbank were characterized 35 years after the implementation of a long-term study involving cropping sequences (continuous corn, corn-soybean, corn-oat-hay) and tillage systems (conventional-, minimum- and no-tillage). Germinable seeds within the top 10 cm of soil in early spring were identified and enumerated in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Species diversity, which was characterized by richness (S), evenness (E) and the Shannon-Weiner index (H'), was significantly influenced by crop rotation rather than tillage. Generally, diversity measures were greatest in the corn-oat-hay sequences as compared to the corn-soybean rotations and the corn monoculture. Species richness and H' typically declined with increasing soil disturbance (no-tillage > minimum-tillage > conventional-tillage), whereas E increased with more intense tillage. A synthetic importance value (RI), incorporating both density and frequency measures, was generated for each species in each plot. Multiresponse permutation procedures (MRPP) were used to examine differences in weed community composition with respect to management system for all three years. Results suggest that the weed seed community in a corn-oat-hay rotational system differs substantially, in structure and composition, from communities associated with continuous corn and corn-soybean systems. No tillage systems were significantly different in composition as compared to conventional tillage and minimum tillage treatments. Crop sequence and tillage system are important cultural methods of shifting weed species number and diversity, and therefore, community structure. Manipulation of these factors could help to reduce the negative impact of weeds on crop production.

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Stephanie Wedryk, Joel Felix, Doug Doohan, and John Cardina

Farmers view weed management and the risk of lower yields as barriers to transition from conventional to organic agriculture. The 3 years of transition before organic certification can be used to implement strategies to suppress weeds and improve soil fertility. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of five organic transition strategies on soil quality, weed suppression, and yield of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and potato (Solanum tuberosum) in the first year of organic production. The transition strategies included a tilled fallow, nontreated weedy, high diversity prairie mixture, smother crops, and vegetable rotation. Subplots with and without compost application were also included. Transition strategies affected weed density and biomass in the first organic year with the prairie strategy being the most suppressive of monocotyledonous weeds before potato. Compost application increased plant available nutrients and soil organic matter (OM). The quantity of plant available phosphorus was greatest in the fallow transition strategy (55 mg·kg−1) when compost was applied, while percent soil OM was highest in the prairie (3.2%) and nontreated (3.1%) strategies in comparison with the other strategies. Compost application increased yields of potato and tomato with transition strategy affecting the number and weight of cull potato tubers. The selection of transition strategies before conversion to organic agriculture affected weed pressure, soil quality, and crop production in the first certified organic year.

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Nancy G. Creamer, Mark A. Bennett, Benjamin R. Stinner, John Cardina, and Emilie E. Regnier

Field and laboratory studies were conducted to investigate the mechanisms of weed suppression by cover crops. High-performance liquid chromatograph analysis and a seed germination bioassay demonstrated that rye (Secale cereale L.) can be leached of its allelochemicals, redried, and used as an inert control for separating physical suppression from other types of interference. In a field study, rye, crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), and a mixture of the four species suppressed the emergence of eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum Dun.). Crimson clover inhibited the emergence of eastern black nightshade beyond what could be attributed to physical suppression alone. The emergence of yellow foxtail [Setaria glauca (L.) Beauv.] was inhibited by rye and barley but not by the other cover crops or the cover crop mixture.

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Lynn Marie Sosnoskie*, John Cardina, Sajal Sthapit, David Francis, and A. Raymond Miller

Our lab characterized the growth and development of 83 velvetleaf accessions, collected from locations in Asia, India, Europe, Eastern Africa and North America, to test the hypothesis that two biotypes (“crop” and “weedy”) exist and are easily differentiated. Measurements taken to gauge morphological and phenological variability include: initial seed weight, stem height at 3, 7, and 11 weeks, leaf size at 3, 7, and 11 weeks, stem and petiole color, time to flowering, time to first capsule maturity, stem height at flowering, height to first mature capsule, basal stem diameter, number of capsules, and capsule size and color. Analyses indicate that accessions producing yellow-colored seed capsules were taller, produced fewer nodes, and were longer-lived than their brown-colored counterparts. This finding supports previous assertions that the yellow-colored varieties were originally selected for use as a fiber crop: i.e., increased stem yield resulted in longer lengths of lignified tissue. The accessions producing brown-colored capsules exhibited greater reproductive output, as measured by the number of capsules and the number of seed-containing valves per capsule, a desirable trait for weedy species. Using capsule color as an independent variable, Discriminant Analysis was able to correctly classify 96% of the observations by the remaining characters, further affirming that the yellow- and brown-capsuled accessions varied, significantly, with respect to their morphology and phenology. Velvetleaf is believed to have originated in China, where it was eventually domesticated. Early records suggest that velvetleaf, a noxious weed in modern agricultural production, was introduced to colonial America to serve as a fiber source for the burgeoning rope-making industry.

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Nancy G. Creamer, Mark A. Bennett, Benjamin R. Stinner, and John Cardina

Four tomato production systems were compared at Columbus and Fremont, Ohio: 1) a conventional system; 2) an integrated system [a fall-planted cover-crop mixture of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), rye (Secale cereale L.), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) killed before tomato planting and left as mulch, and reduced chemical inputs]; 3) an organic system (with cover-crop mixture and no synthetic chemical inputs); and (4) a no-input system (with cover-crop mixture and no additional management or inputs). Nitrogen in the cover-crop mixture above-ground biomass was 220 kg·ha-1 in Columbus and 360 kg·ha-1 in Fremont. Mulch systems (with cover-crop mixture on the bed surface) had higher soil moisture levels and reduced soil maximum temperatures relative to the conventional system. Overall, the cover-crop mulch suppressed weeds as well as herbicide plots, and no additional weed control was needed during the season. There were no differences in the frequency of scouted insect pests or diseases among the treatments. The number of tomato fruit and flower clusters for the conventional system was higher early in the season. In Fremont, the plants in the conventional system had accumulated more dry matter 5 weeks after transplanting. Yield of red fruit was similar for all systems at Columbus, but the conventional system yielded higher than the other three systems in Fremont. In Columbus, there were no differences in economic return above variable costs among systems. In Fremont, the conventional systems had the highest return above variable costs.

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Matthew D. Kleinhenz, Sonia Walker, John Cardina, Marvin Batte, Parwinder Grewal, Brian McSpadden-Gardener, Sally Miller, and Deborah Stinner

The risk: reward for a transition to organic vegetable farming near urban areas and changes in soil, crop, and economic parameters during transition are poorly understood. A 4-year study was initiated in 2003 at the Ohio State Univ.–OARDC to document the relative advantages of four transition strategies and their effects on major cropping system variables. Soil previously in a vegetable-agronomic crop rotation has been maintained fallow, planted to a mixed-species hay, used in open field vegetable production, or used in vegetable production under high tunnels, transition strategies with a range of management intensity and expected financial return. Each strategy was replicated four times within the overall experimental area. Half of the soil in each strategy unit was amended with composted dairy manure while the remaining soil was unamended. Field vegetable plots have been planted to potato, butternut squash, and green bean. High tunnels have been planted to potato, zucchini, and a fall–spring rotation of beet, swiss chard, mixed lettuce, radish, and spinach. Data describing the outcomes of the strategies in terms of farm economics, crop yield and quality, weed ecology, plant pest and disease levels, and soil characteristics (physical, chemical, biological) have been recorded. Inputs in the high tunnels have exceeded inputs in all other strategies; however, high tunnel production has widened planting and harvesting windows and increased potato yield, relative to open field production. To date, compost application has increased crop yield 30% to 230% and influenced crop quality, based on analytical and human panelist measures. Weed (emerged seedlings, seedbank) and nematode populations also continue to vary among the transition strategies.