Blueberry Fields Forever

Blueberry Fields Forever

Weeds pose a challenge to blueberry growers on a year-round basis. Proper identification of the weed species present in your field is the first step toward choosing the appropriate management tactic to employ.

Perennial weed species, such as bermudagrass, nutsedge, or smilax, often can become problems in Florida blueberry farms. If you are establishing a new field, management of perennial species ahead of planting is usually recommended to prevent them from establishing within the young bushes.
To help attain optimum yields, a management strategy is required to prevent them from competing with the crop for water, nutrients, and light.

Cultural Practices

Not all weed management tactics involve the use of herbicides. There are numerous cultural practices that are utilized by growers that help to reduce the impact of weeds on a blueberry farm.

Prevention is accomplished by stopping weed seeds or other plant parts from entering the blueberry rows and establishing new populations. Examples of this concept are preventing seed head production by weeds in areas adjacent to your crops such as row middles, roadways, ditch banks, and fence rows to reduce the chance of weed seeds and other plant parts from spreading to your field. Properly cleaning equipment before it enters the blueberry field also will help you to attain this goal.

Mulches prevent light from being available to weed seedlings that are trying to become established. Also, loose mulches maintain a relatively dry-root zone for weeds that might germinate and try to establish.

Manage water and nutrition by making both only available for the crop and reducing the amount that can be utilized by weedy plants.

Low-volume irrigation systems are an excellent means to direct water and nutrients — if using fertigation — to the crop. If you use dry fertilizer, set your equipment up to deliver the product to the blueberry root zone and not broadcast over the entire field.

Mechanical control can consist of mowing, cultivating, burning, and pulling weeds. At times, mechanical weed management by pulling or hoeing is done when applications of herbicide may contact and injure the crop.

Postemergence Herbicides

Non-selective postemergence herbicides might be used to eliminate hard-to-kill perennial weeds prior to planting a new field or re-planting an old one. Often there will be some established weeds in many fields just after harvest that may necessitate the application of one of these types of herbicides. Products containing the active ingredient glyphosate (Roundup, Monsanto and others) are some of the most common non-selective postemergence herbicides used in blueberries. This herbicide provides control of both annual and perennial grass and broadleaf weeds. It should be noted that contacting leaves, green stems, or exposed roots could lead to crop damage.

To avoid potential systemic injury from glyphosate, some growers choose to use alternative non-selective herbicide active ingredients like paraquat (Gramoxone Inteon and others) or glufosinate (Rely, Bayer CropScience). These two herbicides do not have systemic activity and thus will not provide good control of most perennial weeds.

Care must be taken to avoid contact of paraquat and glufosinate products with green stems or foliage of the crop as injury may result. Directed applications of carfentrazone-ethyl (Aim 2 EC, FMC Corp.) to avoid contact with green stems and leaves of the crop will control certain broadleaf weeds that are in the three- to six-leaf stage.

At times, blueberry growers utilize postemergence grass herbicides, such as products containing the active ingredients sethoxydim (Poast, BASF), or clethodim (Select, Arysta LifeScience), and fluazifop-butyl (Fusilade DX, Syngenta Crop Protection). It should be noted that Select and Fusilade DX are only labeled for non-bearing blueberries. These herbicides selectively control annual and perennial grasses, which tend to be more of a problem in the late spring and summer.

Preemergence Herbicides

Blueberry growers often will apply preemergence herbicides during the dormant period and/or soon after post-harvest pruning to help maintain a relatively weed-free crop. Since many preemergence herbicides have little to no effect on established weeds, one of the non-selective herbicides is often tank mixed with them. The active ingredient simazine (Princep and others) is utilized as a preemergence herbicide by some blueberry growers in Florida.

Recent University of Florida trials conducted in established blueberries in pine bark have indicated that a relatively new blueberry herbicide called Chateau (flumioxazin, Valent USA) has provided good to excellent residual broadleaf weed control. Trials conducted during the summer of 2009 indicated an older herbicide, which is touted as being relatively safe in younger plantings called oryzalin (Surflan and others), provided residual broadleaf control similar to Chateau. Having choices of preemergence herbicides available for use in blueberries is an advantage to growers. As with pest management programs designed to control insects and diseases, rotating products is a good way to avoid developing resistance to a particular herbicide in weeds.

Pesticide Labels

If herbicides are utilized for weed management in blueberries, the herbicide label is the source of all information about a particular product and what steps must be taken to legally and safely apply it.

Each herbicide label has specific instructions related to soil type, crop age, PHI, total applications, and many other instructions that must be followed when using a product. Always read the label before use and follow the directions.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Berries Stories
Blueberry necrotic ring blotch
Berries
October 29, 2016
Pest And Disease Diagnosis 101 In Berries
Using some of the experts and information available can help you avoid problems in the berry patch. Read More
A product shot of Wish Farms' elongated blackberry clamshell
Berries
October 10, 2016
Wish Farms Going Bigger, Bolder With Blackberries
Central Florida-based operation meeting consumer demand by extending its berry program. Read More
A bunch of 'Sweet Sensation' strawberries lined up for photo purposes
Berries
October 3, 2016
Florida Strawberry Growers Have A Sweet Sensation On Their Hands
Study shows the latest variety from UF/IFAS berry breeders is not only heads and shoulders above others in flavor, but also shelflife and color. Read More
giant-berry-promotion-red-state-blue-state
Berries
October 3, 2016
Forget Donald And Hillary – Vote Your Berry
California Giant trending on #BerriesforPresident; strawberries are leading blueberries. Read More
Mechanical strawberry transplanter, the first of its kind in California, developed from collaboration among Driscoll’s, Plantel, and Solex.  (Photo credit: Surendra Dara)
Berries
October 1, 2016
New Mechanical Strawberry Transplanter Wows
New tool, developed in California, helps to alleviate labor needs during summer planting season. Read More
Spring Valley Farms blueberries near Umatilla, FL
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Growers To Dig In
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida Blueberries
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
The Latest
Berries
November 28, 2016
Reserchers Develop Lower-Cost Options Fo…
Research team seeks alternatives to over-the-row harvest systems. Read More
Berries
November 16, 2016
Florida Blueberry Growers Warned To Watc…
Pathogen has been confirmed on three farms so far. Read More
Berries
November 1, 2016
Worker Awarded $700K Following Collapse …
Maine man awarded damages following heat stroke, says blueberry grower was negligent in training him for work. Read More
Berries
October 29, 2016
Pest And Disease Diagnosis 101 In Berrie…
Using some of the experts and information available can help you avoid problems in the berry patch. Read More
Berries
October 10, 2016
Wish Farms Going Bigger, Bolder With Bla…
Central Florida-based operation meeting consumer demand by extending its berry program. Read More
Berries
October 3, 2016
Florida Strawberry Growers Have A Sweet …
Study shows the latest variety from UF/IFAS berry breeders is not only heads and shoulders above others in flavor, but also shelflife and color. Read More
Berries
October 3, 2016
Forget Donald And Hillary – Vote Your Be…
California Giant trending on #BerriesforPresident; strawberries are leading blueberries. Read More
Berries
October 1, 2016
New Mechanical Strawberry Transplanter W…
New tool, developed in California, helps to alleviate labor needs during summer planting season. Read More
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Grower…
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida …
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
Berries
September 22, 2016
Investors Clamoring For Automated Strawb…
Naturipe joins growing list of backers in the labor-saving vision and mission of ag-tech startup. Read More
Berries
September 22, 2016
It Behooves Blueberry Growers To Protect…
Placing priority on bee care best practices will ensure sweet success for your crop. Read More
Berries
September 20, 2016
How To Track Irrigation: Keep Your Eye O…
Time-tested, color-appropriate method for following water movement in plasticulture veggie crops could prove fruitful in blueberries, too. Read More
Berries
September 17, 2016
Florida Blueberry Growers Keen On Two Ne…
Low-chill, machine-harvest capabilities define these southern highbush selections. Read More
Berries
September 13, 2016
New Peach-Sized Strawberry Big On Flavor
Latest variety from Cornell University geared for growers seeking success in local food sector. Read More
Berries
September 13, 2016
New Berry Releases Hit Marks For High Yi…
ARS varieties offer growers two new alternatives to industry standards. Read More
Berries
September 2, 2016
Strawberry Grower Fined For Demanding Ki…
Operator reportedly demanded rent, payments for transportation and expenses incurred bringing workers to U.S. Read More
Berries
September 1, 2016
Pick-Your-Own Pointers From Expert Blueb…
30-year veteran Bob McConnell shares tips on variety selection, production practices, and finding your market. Read More