May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
Oxyfluorfen,(Goal and Galigan) has become a popular and effective herbicide for use on cole crops even though it was first registered in the 1980’s. Oxyfluorfen is a contact herbicide with the same mode of action as Chateau, Aim, Shark, Gramoxone, Paraquat , Sharpen and ET. They are all PPO Inhibitors that rupture cell membranes. Carfentrazone (Aim, Shark), ET and Paraquat (Gramoxone), are effective only as postemergence applications to small weeds, Sharpen and Goal are effective both preemergence and early postemergence and Chateau is used only preemergence but can cause severe crop injury if mixed with a surfactant. The only one of these that is registered for cole crops is Oxyfluorfen (Goal, GoalTender, Galigan). It does not make sense for a contact herbicide to be used on weeds that have not emerged. The way this works is that a barrier is created with the herbicide on the surface that kills the seedling weeds as they come in contact with it. It is important not to disturb this barrier or the weeds will not be affected. Oxyfluorfen (Goal) is an herbicide that defies reason in other ways as well. It normally adheres strongly to the soil and has very low water solubility. It is well known, however, that Goal can lift off of the surface and cause crop injury. When this happens, it is evaporating or going from a liquid to a gas and this is unaffected by its solubility or adsorption. It also works well when chemigated through a sprinkler system. You would think that it would wash off, but it works well with less crop injury when chemigated. Chemigation is registered for onions only but it works well with cole crops as well. It only takes half as much (4 ounces) and is safer to the crop when chemigated. It is best to apply it about 2/3 of the way through the sprinkler run to keep it in place and flush the system.
Damping off is a common problem in spinach. This season we have observed the occurrence of the disease from Imperial valley, to Yuma and all the way to Wellton.
Symptoms of damping‑off and root rot consist of poor seed germination, preemergence death of seedlings, postemergence death of newly emerged seedlings, stunted plants, yellowed lower leaves, general poor growth, wilting, and eventual collapse and death of older plants. The upper taproot may be girdled by a necrotic lesion, or the tip of the taproot may be necrotic. In severe cases, nearly all roots may be girdled or rotted off. Damping-off is problematic in spinach production areas throughout the world. Severity is influenced by cultivar, soil texture, irrigation, and pathogen populations. Severe damping-off is associated with clay or poorly draining soils with a history of frequent spinach production. While all stages of spinach can be infected by root rot organisms, newly emerging plants and young seedlings are very susceptible.
Symptoms are more prominent in areas with poor drainage. These spinach problems are caused by a complex of pathogenic soil fungi that include one or more of the following: Fusarium oxysporum, Pythium (several species), and Rhizoctonia solani. These fungi are present in most soils and can get aggressive and cause loss when the environment is favorable. However, aboveground symptoms of plants that are overwatered are similar to symptoms of root rot. Excess water can damage roots, causing tan to brown, water‑soaked symptoms on roots even if no pathogen is present.
Plant spinach in well draining soils. Prepare seed beds so that even, rapid germination is enhanced. Carefully manage the irrigation schedule to prevent flooding and saturated soil conditions. Plant seed that is treated with fungicides and fumigate the beds. Preplant application of mefenoxam will only control damping-off caused by Pythium. Avoid planting consecutive spinach crops and practice good crop rotation.
Always remember the disease triangle, the necessity of a susceptible host, the favorable environment, and virulent pathogen. To create unfavorable environment avoid overwatering, do light but frequent irrigation to avoid standing water in the field, schedule watering in the morning or earlier part of the day. Addition of soil amendments to increase microbial activity can be helpful.
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.