University of Florida (UF) researchers are looking into new weed management techniques in cole crops and leafy vegetables to help benefit Florida growers.
Peter Dittmar, an assistant professor and Extension specialist at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), received approval for two different Specialty Crop Block Grants from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
One grant Dittmar received is to study the use of cover crops during fallow periods. The research will be to see if the cover crops can reduce the amount of weeds in the field for the fall, when many cash crops are planted. Sorghum-sudangrass is one of the cover crops researchers are using to test this idea. Dittmar says this grass is one of the most common cover crops, specifically for weed management in cabbage.
Dittmar’s second grant from FDACS is for research on improving herbicide use in leafy brassica vegetables. He says he is also looking into two new labels for herbicides, to attempt to provide more options for growers of crops like cabbage and broccoli.
According to Dittmar, UF will be looking into new research for the future of weed management. Researchers will examine plant spacing as well as the potential use of plasticulture for weed management in many vegetable crops.
One of the biggest challenges in leafy vegetables is a lack of herbicide options for weed management, Dittmar says, which is why research and grants are looking at other options for controlling weeds, as well as improving herbicides.
Researchers provide this information, and much more, to growers through the Vegetable Production Handbook produced by UF/IFAS. Dittmar says this publication is spearheaded by the horticultural department, which works with entomology, nematology and plant pathology to get as much information as possible. He says within the last five or six years, the handbook has been grower focused to give them the information they need the most.
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