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  • Author or Editor: Wiley Carroll Johnson III x
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Cultivation using a tine weeder is a proven means to manage weeds in organic Vidalia® sweet onion (Allium cepa) production. If the initial cultivation is delayed, emerged weeds are not controlled. In these cases, herbicides derived from natural products could be used to control the emerged weeds before the initial cultivation. Clove oil has been evaluated for this use, but cool-season weed control is inconsistent during the winter season when Vidalia® sweet onion are grown. Pelargonic acid is a herbicide that can be derived from natural sources or synthesized. Field trials were conducted from 2011 through 2013 to determine the efficacy of pelargonic acid for cool-season weed control in organic Vidalia® sweet onion. All possible combinations of four herbicides and three cultivation regimes using a tine weeder were evaluated. Herbicides evaluated were pelargonic acid (3% and 5% by vol.), clove oil [10% by vol. (2011 and 2012)], d-limonene [14% (2013 only)], and a nontreated control. Cultivation regimes were twice (2×) and four times (4×) at 2-week intervals, and a noncultivated control. Main effects of cultivation and herbicides were independent for all parameters, with no improvement when used in combination. Cultivation 2× and 4× controlled cool-season weeds and improved onion yields, which is consistent with previous research. Pelargonic acid (5%) controlled weeds similar to clove oil (2011 and 2012) and d-limonene (2013), with cool-season weed control efficacy being inconsistent among all herbicides. Onion yield response to weed control from any of the herbicides, including pelargonic acid, also was inconsistent. In organic onion production, inconsistent cool-season performance using pelargonic acid is similar to other herbicides derived from natural sources.

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