Weed management in fruit plantings – Facts for Fancy Fruit

Weed management in fruit plantings

Early spring is a good time to make the first herbicide application of the year in fruit plantings where a weed-free strip is maintained in the row. There are several options for fruit crops including both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. See the weed control chapter in the 2019-2020 Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide for a complete list of registered 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 weeds (foxtail, barnyard grass, goosegrass, crabgrass, lambsquarter, ragweed, etc.). If those are weeds of concern, growers may want to delay application of pre-emergent herbicides until a bit later in the season. A good option is to apply a broad spectrum post-emergent herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, Touchdown, etc.) glufosinate (Rely, Forfeit, etc) or paraquat (Gramoxone) now, 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. This 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 thornless blackberries. Another consideration is temperature. Some products (e.g. glyphosate) are not very effective at cool temperatures, so wait for a warm day to make applications. Gramoxone would be a better post-emergent burn down option if  temperatures are cool.

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