When is a weed, not a weed? (Wait, stop, reverse that)

In the photo above, we have a very fascinating weed. While not common in strawberry fields, it is able to cause considerable damage if allowed to spread. It is large, growing over six feet tall and easily able to tear through plastic mulch. It is a heavy feeder and will steal vital nutrients from its berry brethren. Some members of this weed family are completely immune to the most commonly used herbicides available to growers. If allowed to continue, it will eventually produce large seed pods with hundreds of seeds each. These seed pods are delicious when grilled and coated in butter.

Yes friends, this insidious intruder is none other than: corn. We have no idea how it got there. That said, even though we eat corn a lot in this country, it’s still considered a weed. A weed is simply any plant in an area that someone doesn’t want it in.

There are several ways to treat weeds, and one way that farmers do is by the use of pre-emergent herbicides. These chemicals are applied to the ground before weed seeds germinate. They have exceptionally good adsorptive properties, meaning that they stick to soil particles very well. After a light watering, form a long-lasting protective coating just below the surface. Growers wait for when daytime temps warm to between 65° and 70°F for 4-5 consecutive days to treat spring weeds, and when nighttime temperatures fall to 55° to 60°F for 4-5 consecutive days to treat winter weeds. These temps are just right for the weed seeds to open up and send new weeds to the surface. However, along the way, they run into the herbicide barrier and are killed before they ever reach the surface. This practice not only saves labor but also reduces the amount of herbicides that have to be applied throughout the growing season. However, if a large enough rain event – like a tropical storm – takes place, the pre-emergent herbicide loses it’s effectiveness. This is what happened in the picture to the weeds right next to the plastic.

As for the corn, we pulled it by hand.



Posted: December 9, 2022


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