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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sugarbeet Research » Research » Research Project #444689

Research Project: SSBRI Improving sugar beet production through greater understanding of light-mediated crop-weed interactions

Location: Sugarbeet Research

Project Number: 3060-21000-045-010-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 30, 2024

Weeds are among the most consistent problems sugar beet growers face annually. Widespread herbicide-resistance exacerbates this problem, especially with the limited availability of effective herbicides in sugar beet. Cover crops have been proposed as an environmentally friendly method of weed suppression, but this practice is typically inadequate on its own as a weed management strategy. Previous work has shown that the biological effects of a dense cover crop canopy on weed seedlings may synergize effectiveness of certain herbicides. The overall goal of this research project is to investigate potential synergies between chemical and non-chemical weed management strategies in an effort to improve sugar beet weed control and reduce reliance on herbicides. Specifically, we will (1) use laboratory studies to characterize the far-red light sensitivity of the most economically important annual weed species in sugar beet production regions; (2) quantify potential interactions between light quality effects on seed germination and seedling growth with soil-applied herbicides; and (3) use greenhouse and field studies to quickly advance findings from laboratory studies into field-relevant management recommendations for sugar beet growers. The research plan proposed here addresses multiple priority areas stated in the SSBRI call for proposals. In particular, this project will contribute to: • Characterization and management of herbicide resistant weed species. • Optimization of pesticide application programs. • Optimization of cultural practices for weed management. In addition, since understanding weedy traits is sometimes useful for crop development and new management strategies, over the long term this work may also help in identifying of important agronomic traits in plant germplasm, and identification of pesticide alternatives.

We propose a tiered research approach over the life of this project. We will begin with laboratory studies using lighting arrays and many weed species and genotypes to characterize far-red light sensitivity. We will use those results to select representative genotypes for light by herbicide interaction studies. We will then attempt to replicate those findings in greenhouse studies. Those results will then inform field studies. This tiered approach will help ensure meaningful results by allowing us to move from large germplasm and herbicide screening to field relevance and management recommendations in a relatively short period of time.