Spring Weed Management in Fruit Crops – Facts for Fancy Fruit

Spring Weed Management in Fruit Crops

Early spring is a good time to make the first herbicide application of the year. There are several options for fruit crops including both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. See the weed control chapter in the 2018 Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide for a complete list of products. In most situations, there will be some emerged weeds present in the planting at this time of the year. These could be winter annuals, perennials, or recently germinated summer annuals. A post-emergent herbicide can be used to control those established weeds. A pre-emergent material can be tank mixed at this time to provide residual weed control. However, most pre-emergent herbicides will provide only 6 to 8 weeks of control as they break down in the environment. So, if applied in very early spring, they may not provide sufficient control of summer grasses (foxtail, barnyard grass, goosegrass, crabgrass, etc.). If those are weeds on concern, growers may want to delay application of pre-emergent herbicides until a bit later in the season. A good option in some fruit crops is to apply a broad spectrum post-emergent herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, Touchdown, etc.) or paraquat (Gramoxone) soon then come back in about 4 weeks with a second application of post-emergent tank mixed with a pre-emergent herbicide. That should provide reasonably good season-long weed control. That approach will not work well on brambles where primocane emergence will occur relatively soon. Another caution for bramble growers: we have seen significant damage from applications of glyphosate in recent years, likely due to improved surfactants in the formulations, even when applied during dormancy.  Be especially careful if using glyphosate products, especially in blackberries. Another consideration is temperature. It has been very cool so far this spring and products like glyphosate are not very effective at cool temperatures. Gramoxone would be a better post-emergent burn down option if these cool temperatures continue.

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