Submitted to: Integrated Pest Management Symposium Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Weed control is a major obstacle to vegetable production in tropical and subtropical climates. Hand-weeding is the predominant control method used by subsistence farmers and often requires more labor than all other operations. The objective of our research is to evaluate alternative methods of weed control that will reduce labor requirements. Two practices that appear to have good potential for supplementing hand-weeding include the use of back-pack sprayers to apply selective and non-selective herbicides and he use of mulched cover crops for weed suppression. In a study at Charleston, back-pack application of metolachlor prior to transplanting peppers followed by directed application of pelargonic acid required approximately 10% of the time required for hand-weeding and resulted in higher yields. When hand-weeding and herbicides were used in combination to maintain plots nearly weed-free, weeding time was approximately 60% less than in plots that were only hand-weeded. Weed control expense based on the local U.S. price for herbicides and Jamaican labor costs indicated that the methods were similar in cost; labor savings offset the cost of herbicides. These results indicate that herbicide application using the type of manual spray equipment available to small scale farmers can greatly reduce the labor requirements for weeding. Pelargonic acid(Scythe herbicide) is a nontoxic natural product that may be an adequate alternative to paraquat. Preliminary investigation of pepper and broccoli production using legume cover crop mulches indicate that this practice provides partial control of annual weeds and enhances crop growth, probably by providing supplemental nitrogen.