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Stale-Seedbed Practice for Vegetable Production 1998

Project Leader: Brian Caldwell

Objective:

Explore weed density and biomass responses to basic stale-seedbed techniques for the second season.

Results:

This two-year study of the stale-seedbed practice (in which seeding after initial soil preparation is delayed long enough to kill early flushes of weeds with minimal soil disturbance) supported the following conclusions:

1. Flaming or glyphosate herbicide stale-seedbed techniques can be used to reduce subsequent weed pressure on a crop. These treatments reduced overall weed pressure by 50-90% in most cases. They are not stand-alone weed control methods but could be used with standard weed control measures, such as pre- or postemergence herbicides or cultivation, to improve weed control. In many cases, crop herbicide use and/or frequency of crop cultivation could be reduced.

2. The stale-seedbed techniques were not as effective as multiple rotary tillage against yellow nutsedge.

3. A single delayed flame or glyphosate stale-seedbed treatment was usually as effective as multiple ones.

4. The flexible tine weeder was not effective as a stale-seedbed weed-killing treatment on this soil type. A more aggressive type of cultivation needs to be used, but it needs to be one that does not disturb the soil too deeply. A springtooth harrow was sufficiently aggressive but disturbed the soil too much and did not suppress weed numbers.

5. Broadleaf weeds emerge at a higher rate in the area of the seeder wheeltrack, usually two to three times the rate elsewhere in the plot. It is worth experimenting with seeder modifications to overcome this problem. Conversely, if it is desirable to stimulate weed germination, as between stale-seedbed treatments, rolling or cultipacking may help.