May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
It is much easier to kill weeds when there is no crop in the field and now is a good time to reduce the seed bank of summer annual weeds in fallow fields. Weed seeds are buried at variable depths in the soil, some have hard seed coats and there are other variables that cause them to germinate over a long period of time. If they all came up at the same time they would be much easier to control. It takes time, therefore, to repeatedly irrigate, germinate and kill weeds with either tillage or herbicides. We have conducted trials that indicate that in most years summer annual weeds begin to germinate in February, reach a peak in June but continue to germinate into October.
Proper timing of tillage to kill weeds can be important with some species. Some weeds like common Purslane are very succulent and can remain viable for several days after cultivation or hoeing. They can reroot at the nodes and continue to grow if they are allowed to get too big before they are uprooted. Growers sometimes allow early emerging weeds to get fairly big in an effort to germinate as many seeds as possible. Incorporating large amounts of organic matter into the soil can also have a negative effect on some preemergent herbicides used in vegetables. Many of the root and shoot inhibitor herbicides like Trifluaralin, Pendimethalin, Benefin, DCPA and others can bind to organic matter and be less available to kill weeds.
Tillage has the opposite effect on perennial weeds such as nutsedge and bermudagrass than it has on annual weeds. These weeds are spread vegetatively and repeatedly irrigating and tilling them will spread rather than kill them.
Both contact and systemic herbicides are used during fallow periods to control weeds. The contact herbicides include Paraquat (Gramoxone, Firestorm), Carfentrazone (Aim, Shark), Pyraflufen (ET), Pelegonic Acid (Scythe),Glufosinate (Rely,Liberty) and others. Some of the advantages of these are that they are quick and have no soil residual allowing crops to be planted soon after application. Disadvantages are that they are effective primarily only on small weeds.
The most commonly used systemic herbicide for fallow ground is Glyphosate. It is broad spectrum and has no soil residual. Many of the systemic herbicides registered for fallow use, such as Oxyfluorfen (Goal, Galigan) or EPTC (Eptam) require at least 90 days before planting many vegetable crops. If done correctly, Eptam can be very effective in controlling nutsedge during summer fallow.
Only the fumigants kill weed seeds. These include Chloropicrin, Methyl Bromide, Metam Sodium, Dazomet, Telone and others. Most preemergent herbicides only work after the seed has germinated. Preemergent herbicides are often used for fallow weed control only when at least 30 to 45 days or longer are available. Fumigants are expensive, can be difficult to use and are often used for disease or nematode control with the added benefit of controlling weeds. Unlike soil active herbicides, Fumigants do not have any residual activity.
Soil solarization and flooding have become increasingly popular in recent years as techniques to control pests during summer fallow. Few regions are as well suited for these techniques as the low desert. They are used primarily to control diseases but have the benefit of controlling some summer annual weeds as well. Summer flooding works better here in the low desert than it does in many places because of the high temperatures and high respiration demands. The availability of oxygen is cut off to the roots when it is most needed. It is necessary to keep the field continuously flooded at a depth of 6 to 8 inches for 3 to 8 weeks. Some species are much more sensitive than others to this technique. Perennial weeds are more sensitive than are many annual weeds. Pigweed, field bindweed and nutsedge survive while many annual grasses do not.
We have learned a lot about viruses and one of the striking features of most plant viruses is that they always need a host. And the relationship between a virus and its host plant is very specific. So where do the viruses go when we do not have lettuce or melon in the field? And how do they come back at the right time to infect the crops? (clue insect vector). The answer is weeds. A lot of the most economically important viruses are economically important viruses not just because of the losses they cause, but also because of the losses they cause in variety of plants. Viruses have small genome size that allows them to evolve faster. Viruses over time have evolved to adapt and increase their host range.
Below are some common viruses in agriculture and the number of plants they infect/overwinter. Keep in mind that there are many plants that can act as a reservoir for virus but have not been reported yet, so this is not an exclusive list.
Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV): Alfalfa, lettuce, endive, sunflower, datura, amaranth, different species of pigweed, milkweed, annual fleabane, oxeye daisy, hairy galinsoga, smallflower galinsoga, different species of mustards, common lambsquarters, hedge bindweed, field bindweed, cucurbits, different species of clover and vetch, beans, broad beans, lima beans, lupine, pea soybean, ground Ivy, healall, okra, purslane, pimpernel, black nightshade, pepper, tomato, petunia, eggplant, potato, garden pansy etc.
Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV): pigweed, horseweed, oxeye daisy, coffee weed, Canada thistle, bull thistle, hairy galinsoga, Jerusalem artichoke, prickly lettuce, wild chamomile, hawkweed, groundsel, Canada goldenrod, sowthistle, endive, sunflower, lettuce, mustard, radish, chickweed, lambs quarters, morning glory, cucurbits, common teasel, alfalfa, beans, lima beans, mung beans, geranium, ground Ivy, okra, purslane, jimsonweed, ground cherry, horsenettle, black nightshade, pepper, tomato, petunia, eggplant, potato, burning nettle, garden pansy.
Lettuce mosaic virus (LMV): lettuce, bristly oxtongue, spinach.
Bidens mottle potyvirus: lettuce, endive, horseweed, hairy beggarticks, virginia pepperweed, Mexican pricklepoppy.
Celery mosaic virus (CeMV): Celery, giant hogweed
Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV): Bur cucumber, creeping cucumber, balsom pear, cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, summer squash, pumpkin, gourd, winter squash, butternut squash,
Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV): Tomato, potato, pigweed, hairy beggarticks, oxeye daisy, coffeeweed, prickly lettuce, annual sowthistle, ebdive, sunflower, lettuce, shepherd’s pruse, chickweed, hedge bindweed, cantaloupe, muskmelon, bean, broad bean, mung bean, cutleaf evening primerose, broadleaf plaintain, purslane, jimsonweed, bittersweet nightshade, black night shade, pepper, tomato, petunia, eggplant, potato.
Tobacco mosaic virus(TMV): White campion, jimsonweed, pepper, tomato, tobacco.
Turnip mosaic virus(TurMV): pigweed, wild carrot, bachelo’s button, Canada thistle, hairy galinsoga, smallflower galinsoga, common catsear, pineapple weed, dandelion, endive, sunflower, lettuce, mustard, brassicae crops, corn cockle, chickweed, common lambsquarter, spinach, cucumber, alsike clover, lupine, redstem filaree, ground Ivy, okra, velvetleaf, common pokeweed, purselane, jimsonweed, black nightshade, tomato, petunia..
Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) : mustard, common lambquarters, spinach, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, buttercup, red clover, common vetch, alfalfa, beans, lupine, pea, henbit, common mallow, okra, common pokeweed, jimsonweed, nightshade,
Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) : cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, squash, zucchini, pumpkin, gourds.
Weed escapes are easy to spot in vegetable fields at harvest time. Some growers have these weeds pulled, bagged and removed by hand from the field because they are unsightly and to reduce seedbank loads. This can be a costly operation. An alternative solution might be to use high voltage electricity to kill these weeds. The idea of using electricity to “zap” weeds is not new. Machines for agriculture applications were developed decades ago and commercially available in the late 1970’s. Although the devices worked, they were not widely adopted due in part to the availability of low cost and efficacious herbicides.
Because of environmental concerns, herbicide resistant weed issues and increased organic production, non-chemical, high voltage weed control technology is seeing a resurgence. There are now five companies, three established within the last four years, offering or developing machines for commercial agriculture. Although configurations differ, all machines operate using the same principles. To explain, consider the example of the machine shown in Fig. 1. The unit comprises high voltage electrodes (8-15 kV) positioned above the crop canopy, an electric generator and a soil engaging coulter connected to ground. During operation, when an electrode touches a weed protruding above the canopy, current flows through the plant back to the generator via the ground contacting coulter. Current flow combined with electrical resistance in the plant causes rapid heating and plant fluids to vaporize. This ruptures cell walls and kills the plant. Although there are few recent reports in the literature, prior research on dated machines showed that the technique can provide better than 98% weed control in moderate weed densities (15,000 weeds/acre) at travel speeds of 2 mph (Diprose & Benson, 1984).
Modern approaches that utilize high voltage electricity in combination with smart machines to spot treat weeds are being developed. The idea is to use camera imagery and artificial intelligence to locate weeds and high voltage electricity to kill them. One such machine being developed by the MASCOR Institute1 and the Zasso Group is an autonomous robot equipped with cameras, on-board computers and robotic arms (Fig. 2). As the machine moves through the field, high voltage electrodes mounted on the movable, computer controlled robotic arms zap weeds. Another unit is being developed by Stekettee and RootWave. It is tractor pulled and designed to travel at 3 mph. Stekettee’s machine vision system identifies the weeds and RootWave’s high voltage electric technology shocks the weed with a pulsed 5 kV charge. Power is supplied by a generator connected to the tractor’s PTO. Both systems are in late stages of development with field tests conducted in 2020.
These systems appear promising and if they prove to be effective and economical, may be something to look for in the future.
1Reference to a product or company is for specific information only and does not endorse or recommend that product or company to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.
Results of pheromone and sticky trap catches can be viewed HERE.
Results of pheromone and sticky trap catches can be viewed HERE.
Corn earworm: CEW moth activity increased a bit in the past 2 weeks but remains well below average for late spring.
Beet armyworm: Moth counts increased slightly, but remain very low consistent with seasonal temperatures, and below average for this point in the season.
Cabbage looper: Significant increase in activity in Dome Valley, Gila Valley and Tacna, but moth counts remain unusually low for this time of year, as they have all season.
Whitefly: No adult movement recorded across all locations and overall low numbers consistent with temperatures.
Thrips: Thrips adult movement beginning to pick up considerably, particularly in Yuma and Dome Valleys. Movement is below average for late March.
Aphids: Seasonal aphid counts down considerably compared with the Feb and Jan. Counts highest in Bard and Gila Valley. Below average movement for this time of year. Majority of species found on traps were green peach aphid.
Leafminers: Adult activity up slightly in some locations, but well below average for late season.