May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
Sprangletop has become increasingly widespread in Arizona mostly because of its growth habits and tolerance to many commonly used herbicides. It is in the Leptochloa genus which is derived from the Greek words leptos (thin) and chloa (grass). There are more than 150 species of sprangletop worldwide but only three in Arizona and two in Yuma County. The two that are the most common in the low desert are Mexican Sprangletop, which is Leptochloa uninervia and Red Sprangletop, Leptochloa filiformis. A third species, Bearded Sprangletop, Leptochloa fascicularis, is more common at higher elevations of 1500 feet or higher. It is not uncommon to find both Red and Mexican Sprangletop in the same field and it is not hard to distinguish them when they are side by side. Red Sprangletop has a light green leaf blade which is similar in width to watergrass and barnyardgrass. It has very fine hairs and very small and fine branches and spiklets. It also has a long membranous ligule. The name Red refers to the leaf sheath, which is characteristically red, rather than the seed head. Mexican Sprangletop has a thinner leaf blade which is darker green or grayish in color and similar in appearance to common bermudagrass. The seed head is distinctly coarser than that of Red Sprangletop. Side by side, leaf color and size of the seed make it easy to distinguish these two. Both of these grasses are classified as summer annuals, but they grow more like perennials in the low desert. Sprangletop does very well in the hottest part of the summer and typically germinates from seed during the hottest period between July and September. Once established, however, it often survives through the cold winter months. It grows into clumps that often appear to be dead during the winter. New shoots commonly grow from these established crowns the next season. When this occurs, preemergent herbicides such as Trifluralin or Prowl are ineffective. Some Sprangletop plants stay green and grow through the winter. Many of the postemergence, grass specific herbicides that control many grasses are ineffective on Sprangletop. This also has contributed to the spread of these weeds. Sethoxydim (Poast) and Fluazifop (Fusilade) do not control either Red or Mexican sprangletop. Only Clethodim (Select Max, Select, Arrow and others) is the only one of these grass herbicides that is effective and only at the highest labeled rates. Two applications are often necessary to achieve season long control.
Last year we had a lot of watermelon fields infected with Fusarium from Winterhaven to Yuma, Wellton, and Mohawk Valley. Rain, and overwatering of fields when plants set fruits might have contributed to the disease development.
Fusarium wilt of watermelon, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, is one of the oldest described Fusarium wilt diseases and the most economically important disease of watermelon worldwide. It occurs on every continent except Antarctica and new races of the pathogen continue to impact production in many areas around the world. Long-term survival of the pathogen in the soil and the evolution of new races make management of Fusarium wilt difficult.
Symptoms of Fusarium can sometimes be confused with water deficiency, even though there is plenty of water in the field. In Yuma valley we have seen fusarium problem in some overwatered fields.
Initial symptoms often include a dull, gray green appearance of leaves that precedes a loss of turgor pressure and wilting. Wilting is followed by a yellowing of the leaves and finally necrosis. The wilting generally starts with the older leaves and progresses to the younger foliage. Under conditions of high inoculum density or a very susceptible host, the entire plant may wilt and die within a short time. Affected plants that do not die are often stunted and have considerably reduced yields. Under high inoculum pressure, seedlings may damp off as they emerge from the soil.
Initial infection of seedlings usually occurs from chlamydospores (resting structure) that have overwintered in the soil. Chlamydospores germinate and produce infection hyphae that penetrate the root cortex, often where the lateral roots emerge. Infection may be enhanced by wounds or damage to the roots. The fungus colonizes the root cortex and soon invades the xylem tissue, where it produces more mycelia and microconidia. Consequently, the fungus becomes systemic and often can be isolated from tissue well away from the roots. The vascular damage we see in the roots is the defense mechanism of the plant to impede the movement of pathogen.
Disease management include planting clean seeds/transplants, use of resistant cultivars, crop rotation, soil fumigation, soil solarization, grafting, biological control. An integrated approach utilizing two or more methods is required for successful disease management.
Mark C. Siemens
Vol. 12, Issue 9, Published 5/5/2021
Automated thinning machines have been commercially available since 2012. These machines identify crop plants and intermittently deliver an herbicidal spray or dose of liquid fertilizer to thin the stand to the desired plant spacing. Some growers have converted older machines to spot apply pesticides to crop plants rather than thin lettuce. Spot spraying just the crop plant makes sense – it reduces applied chemical amount by about 1/3rd as compared to band spraying and by roughly 90% as compared to broadcast. I have heard reports of improved efficacy with this technique, perhaps due to better coverage, however this potential benefit has not been validated in formal trials.
A drawback with automated thinning machines is their high cost. Retail prices for machines are approximately $25,000 per seed line, or about $200,000 for a 4-row, 2-line machine. Another option might be to use automated systems designed for spot spraying weeds. These devices have been commercially available since the mid 90’s and function similarly to automated thinning machines in that they use optical sensors to detect plants and solenoid activated spray assemblies to intermittingly spray unwanted plants (Fig. 1). The cost of these devices is quite reasonable – about $3,000 per unit, or about $24,000 for a 4-row, 2-line machine.
Automated spot sprayers are typically used in agriculture to control weeds in fallow fields (Fig. 2), but could easily be adapted to apply pesticides or even fertilizer to vegetable crops. Spot applying foliar fertilizers to vegetable crops is an interesting concept and is being investigated in California with lettuce.
Another potential use of spot sprayers is to control herbicide resistant weeds. The device can be positioned between crop rows to spot spray a non-selective herbicide to target weeds. Placing the sprayer in a hooded enclosure prevents unwanted drift onto crop plants. We are conducting trials using this technique in cotton this season (Fig. 3). We are also looking for collaborators interested in trying the device as a pesticide and/or fertilizer spot applicator in vegetable crops for this upcoming season. If you are interested collaborating or would like to see a demo of the device, please feel free to reach out to me.
Corn earworm: First significant CEW moth activity since mid-November; particularly active in Dome/Wellton/Tacna areas.
Beet armyworm: Moth counts remain very low consistent with seasonal temperatures, but below average for this point in the season.
Cabbage looper: Slight increase in activity, but moth counts remain unusually low for this time of season.
Whitefly: Adult movement is at seasonal low consistent with temperatures and lack of melons or cotton.
Thrips: Thrips activity beginning to pick up, particularly in Tacna and Yuma Valley. Movement is still below average for February.
Aphids: Seasonal aphid counts peaked in early February and tending down last week. Counts remain high in Gila Valley and Wellton. Above average for this time of year.
Leafminers: Adult activity remains light in most trap locations. Trap counts increasing slightly in the South Gila Valley.