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Flame cultivation promising as weed control method for cranberry

Date:
September 16, 2013
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
Cranberries are important agricultural commodities in states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon. But cranberry-growing operations are challenged by weeds, which compete for precious resources and often decrease fruit yields and revenues. Producers currently rely on weed management strategies such as flooding and sanding cranberry beds, hand-weeding, or applications of pre- and postemergence herbicides. Recent interest in reducing chemical inputs into cranberry growing systems has led researchers to evaluate alternative methods such as flame cultivation as a potential nonchemical weed control option.

This image shows weeds on a cranberry farm being treated with the type of open flame cultivation tool used in the study. The method proved successful for controlling weeds.
Credit: Photo by Krystal DeMoranville

Cranberries are important agricultural commodities in states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon. But cranberry-growing operations are challenged by weeds, which compete for precious resources and often decrease fruit yields and revenues. Producers currently rely on weed management strategies such as flooding and sanding cranberry beds, hand-weeding, or applications of pre- and postemergence herbicides. Recent interest in reducing chemical inputs into cranberry growing systems has led researchers to evaluate alternative methods such as flame cultivation as a potential nonchemical weed control option.

University of Massachusetts scientists Katherine Ghantous, Hilary Sandler, Wesley Autio, and Peter Jeranyama designed a study using flame cultivation techniques for weed control in cranberry crops. The results, published in the July 2013 issue of HortScience, showed promise for integrating the weed control technique into "certain situations," including organic farming. The team tested three types of handheld propane torches (one open flame and two styles of infrared torches) and varying exposure times on several species of perennial weeds. "We thought that flame cultivation would cause damage to cranberry plants and that damage would increase with increasing exposure duration and vary by flame cultivator tool used," noted Hillary Sandler, the study's corresponding author. Surprisingly, although the results showed minor response differences between the cranberry varieties tested, all varieties showed recovery from flame cultivation (FC) damage, irrespective of which tool was used or the duration of exposure.

"Our economic analysis showed that the time and cost of using an open flame torch for spot control of weeds was similar to that of the common practice of using a wick applicator to apply glyphosate to weeds," the researchers noted. "In addition to being as cost-effective as glyphosate wipes, the non-fatal response to flame control indicates that it will cause less damage to cranberry plants that are incidentally exposed during spot treatment of weeds than glyphosate."

The experiments determined that flame cultivation could be integrated as a sustainable and economical approach for weed control in some situations. "This technology could be applicable for conventional production as well as organic production, and would ideally be used as a spot treatment for weeds growing in the cranb


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Katherine M. Ghantous and Hilary A. Sandler1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass Cranberry Station, 1 State Bog Road, P.O. Box 569, East Wareham, MA 02538 Wesley R. Autio Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003 Peter Jeranyama. Damage and Recovery of Cranberry Vines from Exposure to Handheld Flame Cultivators. HortScience, 2013 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Flame cultivation promising as weed control method for cranberry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916140108.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2013, September 16). Flame cultivation promising as weed control method for cranberry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916140108.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Flame cultivation promising as weed control method for cranberry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916140108.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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