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Strategies for Dealing with Pesky Perennial Weeds

Mike Basedow, Tree Fruit Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

April 14, 2020

Strategies for Dealing with Pesky Perennial Weeds

Mike Basedow, ENYCHP and Lynn Sosnoskie, Cornell School of Integrated Plant Science

Perennial weeds can be particularly difficult to manage in the apple orchard. These plants are defined as being able to live for more than two years, which is due to their abilities to produce large root systems or other underground storage structures, such as bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes. These structures facilitate the spread of perennials in orchards, although many species also produce seed that support dispersal.

Perennial weed control begins well ahead of orchard planting, when the field is still fallow. This timing allows orchard managers to make good use of deep, frequent cultivation and herbicides to deplete nutrient reserves stored in the weed's underground structures. This should be followed by the establishment of a strong orchard sod that will prevent weeds from breaking through.  

However, no matter how well we prepare the site prior to planting, problematic weeds will always find their way back into the orchard. Thankfully, we can still manage many of these challenging species by being vigilant and strategic with our weed management programs. Let's review management plans for a few of these perennial pests.

Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

 

Figure 1. Yellow nutsedge has triangular stems and yellow/gold flowers (A). Nutsedge produces tubers that aid in its dispersal (B). Photos courtesy Dr. Lynn Sosnoskie.

Yellow nutsedge (as the name suggests) is a sedge, which can be differentiated from the grasses by its triangular stems. It has three small leaves at the base of each flower, which are yellow/gold in color (Figure 1A). Yellow nutsedge produces tubers, which are its underground food storage systems, at the end of rhizomes (Figure 1B). These tubers can persist in the soil for up to five years. Multiple daughter tubers can develop from a single parent plant. Nutsedge is difficult to control because it has large energy reserves as well as a prolonged sprouting period.

Cultural tactics, such as planting orchards in well-drained soils, can be an effective strategy for dealing with nutsedge. Once the orchard is established, control programs will need to rely on well-timed herbicide applications.  If you have nutsedge in your orchard, you might consider using pre-emergence applications of dichlobenil (Casoron, WSSA Group 20) or multiple applications of halosulfuron (Sandea, WSSA Group 2). 

Casoron CS is a microencapsulated liquid product that should be applied to the soil surface from late fall through early spring. It can suppress yellow nutsedge (and other perennial species) and control many annual weeds. The soil should be moist at the time of treatment or else the application should be followed by a rain event so the product is activated. Germinating or emerging species at/below the treated zone will be affected; small (< 2" tall), existing weeds with roots in the herbicidal barrier may also be injured or killed. Casoron 4G is a granular product and can be applied as a soil treatment only between November 15 and February 15 because of volatility loss. Note that Casoron 4G can only be used for nutsedge control in non-crop areas of the orchard.

Sandea can be applied as a single broadcast application to the orchard floor on either side of the row when nutsedge is fully emerged in early to midsummer. Alternatively, two, sequential applications can be made; the first treatment should occur when the initial nutsedge flush has reached the 3-5 leaf stage while the follow-up application would be made during secondary emergence. Pre-emergence applications of halosulfuron will likely only suppress nutsedge. Other residual products like norflurazon (Solicam, WSSA Group 12) and terbacil (Sinbar, WSSA Group 5) may provide suppression to partial control of nutsedge but will likely require multiple years of application before you will see an impact. The same may be true with rimsulfuron (Matrix, WSSA 2), which also has post-emergence activity. Contact post-emergence products, such as paraquat (WSSA Group 22) and glufosinate (Rely, WSSA Group 10), can be used to burn back above ground shoot growth, but this will not kill the below ground tubers.  Also note that because nutsedge is not a grass, it will not be managed using WSSA Group 1 herbicides.

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Figure 2. Canada thistle rosette of spiny lobed leaves (A), flowers, and seed head (B). Photos courtesy Dr. James Altland, Oregon State University.

Canada thistle is a broadleaf perennial. Canada thistle's root system is extensive; its roots can reach up to 17 feet across and 20 feet deep. Canada thistle forms a rosette of spiny, lobed leaves (Figure 2A), which will emerge from its roots during both a spring and fall growth flush. Canada thistle also spreads through seed dispersal. Seeds germinate about the same time as the spring flush. A single large seed head can produce up to 5000 seeds (Figure 2B), and a new plant can sprout from as little as a single inch of root segment.  

There are some pre-emergence herbicides with efficacy against Canada thistle seedlings including dichlobenil and rimsulfuron (Matrix, WSSA Group 2). Clopyralid (Stinger, WSSA Group 4) is an excellent post-emergent material for control of mature thistle. Stinger should be applied to Canada thistle from rosette to bud stage although it cannot be applied during apple bloom. Clopyralid should also be applied to thistle postharvest, but prior to the first frost while the plant is still actively growing and healthy. 2,4-D (another WSSA Group 4) will also provide partial control when used at similar timings. Contact products such as glufosinate (Rely, WSSA Group 10), and group 14 products like pyraflufen-ethyl (Venue) and saflufenacil (Treevix) will also burn down emerged foliage. These contact-only herbicides are not translocated to roots and will only result in shoot death.   

Mowing while the plant is flowering will keep Canada thistle from setting new seeds, but no mowing should be done for at least ten days following a systemic herbicide application to ensure chemical movement out of the treated tissues.

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Figure 3. Field bindweed has a creeping root system (A), produces arrowhead-shaped leaves that are simple and alternate (B) and has white or pink, funnel shaped leaves (C). Photos by Dr. Lynn Sosnoskie.

Field bindweed is a perennial broadleaf that spreads by both seed and through its large, creeping root system (Figure 3A). Bindweed's tap roots, which can grow upwards of 30 feet below ground, facilitates its persistence and tolerance of environmental stress and most weed control tactics. Bindweed has arrowhead-shaped leaves that are simple and alternate with a flattened base and a rounded tip (Figure 3B). It has white or pink, funnel-shaped flowers that are one to two inches across (Figure 3C). The species can be confused with another perennial bindweed, Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed), which produces larger leaves (with a deeply lobed base and pointed tips) and flowers.

Bindweed is best controlled prior to planting through frequent cultivations and systemic herbicide applications. Once the orchard is planted, spring applications of dichlobenil (Casoron, WSSA Group 20) can provide pre-emergence and post emergent seedling control when seedlings are small. Again, be mindful of the timing limitations associated with these products, as spring applications must be made between Nov 15 and Feb 15 for the 4G formulation, and when air temperatures are less than 70F and before seedlings are two inches tall for the CS formulation. Pre-emergence applications should be followed up with frequent, additional spot treatments of a systemic product. Remember that 2,4-D, an auxinic herbicide, cannot be applied at apple bloom. Contact products like glufosinate (Rely, WSSA Group 10), and group 14 chemistries such as carfentrazone-ethyl (Aim) and pyraflufen-ethyl (Venue) may also be used to burn back foliage. Mowing is rarely an effective strategy for controlling field bindweed as the prostrate vines often grow under the height of a mower deck.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officianale)

Figure 4. Dandelions form a rosette of lobed, irregularly toothed leaves (A), produce large yellow flowers (B), and have globe-like, white seed heads (C). Photos by Dr. Lynn Sosnoskie.

Dandelions propagate by seed and through shoots that grow from the thick, fleshy roots. Dandelions form a rosette of lobed, irregularly toothed leaves close to the ground (Figure 4A), and produce large, yellow flowers (Figure 4B). Dandelions are characterized by their globe-like, white seed heads; individual seeds possess a feathery pappus that allows for wind-dispersal (Figure 4C).

Dandelions are best managed through the use of herbicides, as their low growth and large root systems make mowing ineffective.  Pre-emergence products for dandelion seedling control include: indaziflam (Alion, WSSA Group 29), dichlobenil (Casoron, WSSA Group 20), flumioxazin (Chateau, WSSA Group 14), rimsulfuron (Matrix, WSSA Group 2) and terbacil (Sinbar, WSSA Group 5). Some of these products will also provide some partial post-emergence suppression of seedlings, including rimsulfuron (Matrix) and dichlobenil (Casoron). Systemic auxinic products like 2,4-D and clopyralid (Stinger) may provide partial control of the perennial dandelion plants when used following harvest, prior to the first frost. Burndown materials, such as glufosinate (Rely, WSSA Group 10), and the group 14 products pyraflufen-ethyl (Venue) and saflufenacil (Treevix), can also be utilized in the late spring to suppress above ground shoot growth.

A note on glyphosate for perennial weed management

Glyphosate can be an important tool in a perennial weed management program, as it is both non-selective and systemic, allowing it to be translocated from the foliage down into the storage tissues.  There are a few key points to keep in mind if you plan to use glyphosate.

  • To get the most out of glyphosate's systemic properties, timing is critical. For many weeds, it is best to apply in the spring prior to bud formation up through the flowering period, as this is the period when plants are actively growing and when phloem mobile products are most likely to be translocated to the roots.  For yellow nutsedge, the best timing is prior to tuber formation, at about the 5 leaf stage.
  • Due to glyphosate's broad spectrum and systemic properties, it must be used with caution to prevent injury to the apple trees. It should only be used in the spring, not beyond early July. Later applications risk uptake by the trees, increasing the potential for sub-lethal damage and winter injury. Every measure should be taken to keep the herbicide from contacting the tree foliage, root suckers, and trunks.

For a full review of the effects glyphosate can have on the apple orchard, we recommend the following Fruit Quarterly article from 2013: http://nyshs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Pages-23-28-from-NYFQ-Winter-12-12-2013.cmc_.pdf

Always read the label before choosing a product and making an application. Each product has specific product use and tree age restrictions that are pertinent to your operation. Many herbicides can cause damage to trees if they come into contact with sensitive tissues; check labels regarding safe spraying requirements. While some pre-emergence herbicides can control small, emerged, annual weeds, a burn-down herbicide may be required to achieve complete vegetation control. Active ingredients vary with respect to their spectrums of control; reference product labels regarding tank-mixing recommendations. While we make every effort to provide up to date information, remember that ultimately the label is the law. 



​Strategies for Dealing with Pesky Perennial Weeds (pdf; 3340KB)

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Farm Financial Management Tuesdays - Planning for a Change or Exiting Your Farm Business

November 30, 2021 : Assessing the Financial Ramifications of and Options for Significant Change to Your Farm Business

The inflationary economy is upon us! The huge influx of money into the US economy following the COVID-19 pandemic has manufactured high prices and in turn increased operating costs for farm business thus forcing many businesses into net operating loss situations. Other farms are facing high labor costs or chronic labor shortages.  Some farms have taken on debt loads that make these increased costs unaffordable.  Depending on the stage in the business lifecycle, it may make sense to change enterprises or exit the farming business entirely. 

Join CCE ENYCH Ag Business Educator, Elizabeth Higgins, and CAAHP Ag Business Educator, Dayton Maxwell, for a one-hour program to learn about the financial aspects of changing or exiting a farm business. 

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As farm business enterprises are changed or disbanded, the emotional stress can be tremendous, especially when individuals and family members maintain diminished assurance relative to future security. 

Join Gabriel Gurley and Brenda O'Brien of New York FarmNet for a one-hour program focused on successfully navigating the emotional turmoil of a family farm business transition.

December 14, 2021 : New Venture Creation; Shifting Business Direction and Life After Farming

Change creates opportunity and new opportunities are certain when farm businesses change or end. 

Join Gabriel Gurley of New York FarmNet for a one-hour overview of identifying ways and means to capitalize on new opportunities resulting from farm business transitions.

 

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Remote Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course - Dec 2021

December 8 - December 9, 2021

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for farms subject to the Produce Safety Rule. All farms are welcome to attend to learn about recommended food safety practices for growing, handling, and storing fresh produce. Course registration fee includes a course manual and certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).

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January 18, 2022

Tax Management for Beginning and Small Farm Businesses.

A one-night virtual meeting for beginning and part-time farmers that provides useful tax information enabling participants to be make better tax decisions for their business.   Federal and state income taxes will be covered. Tax regulations specific to NYS will be covered as well. 


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Announcements

2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide

Prepare your sprayer and make sure you have the insecticides of choice on hand. Click on the following link for the revised 2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_981.pdf

Current recommendations are to use the most effective material you can early in the spray program - even though the population seems small. The strategy is to keep the population small for as long as possible as it's very hard to gain control after the numbers have ballooned.  

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers Facing Inclement Weather

Severe weather events create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management
For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Disaster Assistance
USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which is especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers who have fewer risk management options.
First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. And, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides assistance to producers of grazed forage crop acres that have suffered crop loss due to a qualifying drought. Livestock producers suffering the impacts of drought can also request Emergency Haying and Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

For LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days.

Documentation
It's critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss.

Other common documentation options include:
- Purchase records
- Production records
- Vaccination records
- Bank or other loan documents
- Third-party certification

Additional Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact the Rensselaer County USDA Service Center @ 518 271 1889 ext. 2. The office is open for business, however due to pandemic restrictions all in-person visits require an appointment.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


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FSMA Updates with Gretchen Wall

August 10, 2021
In this episode, Elisabeth Hodgdon discusses news and updates related to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule with food safety specialist Gretchen Wall. They discuss inspection schedules for the 2021 season, On Farm Readiness Reviews, water testing, new resources available for growers, and more.

Resources:
Records Required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, by K. Woods, D. Stoeckel, B. Fick, G. Wall, and E.A. Bihn. This fact sheet includes an explanation of required records as well as printable record templates:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/sites/producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/Records-Required-by-the-FSMA-PSR.pdf

Upcoming Remote, Online, and In-Person Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/training/grower-training-courses/upcoming-grower-trainings/

Interactive Google map of water testing labs, created by the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?amp%3Busp=sharing&mid=1C8KHM6jJszj9auYQttUbVtPKtb4eEBSJ&ll=41.22288057139939%2C-78.58548244999999&z=5\

Interested in joining the Produce Safety Alliance listserv? Sign up here to receive FSMA updates, notifications of educational opportunities and new resources, and more:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/

Contact Information:
To schedule an On Farm Readiness Review or discuss your farm’s FSMA PSR coverage status, contact Steve Schirmer (315-487–0852 or steve.schirmer@agriculture.ny.gov), or Aaron Finley (518-474-5235 or aaron.finley@agriculture.ny.gov).

Episode speakers:
Elisabeth Hodgdon, ENYCHP vegetable specialist: 518-650-5323 or eh528@cornell.edu
Gretchen Wall, Produce Safety Alliance coordinator and Northeast Regional Extension Associate: 607-882-3087 or glw53@cornell.edu

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