May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
When known weedy fields are ready to plant and labor is expected to be short, it is tempting to use all the preplant herbicides that are available. In lettuce, there are three preplant herbicides available and it is not uncommon to use 2 and occasionally all 3 on the same crop. All three of these herbicides use the same mode of action to kill weeds. There are slight differences between them but they all either stop or disrupt cell division in the roots and or stems of the weeds. They are normally safe to lettuce unless the crop is stressed or the rate, timing or placement are poor. The rationale for using multiple preplant herbicides in lettuce is often to broaden the weed control spectrum or guard against misses caused by misapplication or environmental conditions. There are some hazards, however, that sometimes outweigh the benefits. Potential crop injury is increased. All 3 use the same mode of action and the chance of injuring developing crop roots is compounded. Sometimes herbicides are added that contribute nothing but potential injury to the mix. If you look at the following chart you can see that many weeds are controlled by Kerb, for instance, that are not controlled by Balan or Prefar. Why add them? All three control grasses, goosefoot and purslane. If environmental conditions and applications are optimal it is often possible to use only one. Herbicides are much less expensive than labor, but it is possible to overdo it and cause more problems and expense.
Bindu Poudel, Martin Porchas, and Rebecca Ramirez
Yuma Agricultural Center, University of Arizona, Yuma, AZ
This study was conducted at the Yuma Valley Agricultural Center. The soil was a silty clay loam (7-56-37 sand-silt-clay, pH 7.2, O.M. 0.7%). Lettuce ‘Magosa’ was seeded, then sprinkler-irrigated to germinate seed on Nov 19, 2019 on double rows 12 in. apart on beds with 42 in. between bed centers. All other water was supplied by furrow irrigation or rainfall. Treatments were replicated four times in a randomized complete block design. Each replicate plot consisted of 25 ft of bed, which contained two 25 ft rows of lettuce. Plants were thinned Jan 6, 2020 at the 3-4 leaf stage to a 12-inch spacing. Treatment beds were separated by single nontreated beds. Treatments were applied with a tractor-mounted boom sprayer that delivered 50 gal/acre at 100 psi to flat-fan nozzles spaced 12 in. apart.
Sclerotia of Sclerotinia minor were produced in 0.25 pt glass flasks containing 15 to 20 sterilized 0.5 in. cubes of potato by seeding the potato tissue with mycelia of the fungus. After incubation for 4 to 6 wk at 68°F, mature sclerotia were separated from residual potato tissue by washing the contents of each flask in running tap water within a soil sieve. Sclerotia were air-dried at room temperature, then stored at 40°F until needed. Inoculum of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum was produced in 2 qt glass containers by seeding moist sterilized barley seeds with mycelia of the pathogen. After 2 mo incubation at 68°F, abundant sclerotia were formed. The contents of each container were then removed, spread onto a clean surface and air-dried. The resultant mixture of sclerotia and infested barley seed was used as inoculum. Lettuce ‘Magosa’ was seeded Nov 19, 2019 then sprinkler-irrigation was initiated to germinate seed in double rows 12 inches apart on beds with 42 inches between bed centers. Plants were thinned Jan 6, 2020 at the 3-4 leaf stage to a 12-inch spacing. For plots infested with Sclerotinia minor, 0.13 oz (3.6 grams) of sclerotia were distributed evenly on the surface of each 25-ft-long plot between the rows of lettuce and incorporated into the top 1 inch of soil. For plots infested with Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, 0.5 pint of a dried mixture of sclerotia and infested barley grain was broadcast evenly over the surface of each 25-ft-long lettuce plot, again between the rows of lettuce on each bed, and incorporated into the top 1-inch of soil. Treatment beds were separated by single nontreated beds. Treatments were replicated five times in a randomized complete block design. Each replicate plot consisted of a 25 ft length of bed, which contained two 25 ft rows of lettuce. Control plots received sclerotia but were not treated with any fungicide.
For treatments first applied at seeding, sclerotia were introduced into plots before the first application of treatments. The first application for at seeding treatments was made Nov 20, with an additional application on Jan 9. For treatments first applied after thinning, sclerotia were introduced into plots after thinning before the first application of these treatments, with additional applications as noted in the data sheets. An initial sprinkler irrigation supplied water for seed germination, with subsequent furrow irrigations for crop growth. The final severity of disease was determined at plant maturity by recording the number of dead and dying plants in each plot due to Sclerotinia minor (Mar 18) or Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Mar 17). As a point of reference, the original stand of lettuce was thinned to about 65 plants per plot.
In nontreated plots, 30 and 37% of lettuce plants were dead or dying due to infection with Sclerotinia minor and S. sclerotiorum, respectively, at the end of the trial. Please refer to the data tables to compare treatments of interest, using the Least Significant Difference Value listed at the bottom of each table to determine statistically significant differences among treatments. Endura+Stragus alternated with Merivon+Stargus, PhD, and Luna Sensation were effective against Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Endura on seeding water alternated with Merivon at thinning, Luna Sensation at thinning, Endura at thinning alternate with Merivon, Endura_stargus at thinning alternate with Merivon+stargus gave the best results against Sclerotinia minor(see table).
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.
The Yuma County Leaf Wetness Network remains in place for the 2018/19 vegetable season. Growers and PCAs may access information generated by the network by entering the following internet address: http://220.127.116.11:460
Upon entering the address above, you will be transferred to internet page that provides a series of tabs at the top of the page. Simply click on the tabs to access the information of interest.
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.