Strip Tillage and Early-Season Broadleaf Weed Control in Seeded Onion (Allium cepa)

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Field experiments were conducted in 2007 and 2008 near Oakes, North Dakota (ND), USA, to evaluate if strip tillage could be incorporated into a production system of seeded onion (Allium cepa) to eliminate the standard use of a barley (Hordeum vulgare) companion crop with conventional, full width tillage, yet support common early-season weed control programs. A split-factor design was used with tillage (conventional and strip tillage) as the main plot and herbicide treatments (bromoxynil, DCPA, oxyfluorfen, and pendimethalin) as sub-plots. Neither tillage nor herbicide treatments affected onion stand counts. Common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) densities were lower in strip tillage compared to conventional tillage up to three weeks after the post-emergence applied herbicides. In general, micro-rate post-emergence herbicide treatments provided greater early-season broadleaf weed control than pre-emergence herbicide treatments. Onion yield and grade did not differ among herbicide treatments because the mid-season herbicide application provided sufficient control/suppression of the early-season weed escapes that these initial weed escapes did not impact onion yield or bulb diameter. In 2007, onion in the strip tillage treatment were larger in diameter resulting in greater total and marketable yields compared to conventional tillage. Marketable onion yield was 82.1 Mg ha−1 in strip tillage and 64.9 Mg ha−1 in conventional tillage. Results indicate that strip tillage use in direct-seeded onion production was beneficial, especially when growing conditions were conducive to higher yields and that the use of strip tillage in onion may provide an alternative to using a companion crop as it did not interfere with either early-season weed management system.
Sarah Gegner-Kazmierczak
Harlene Hatterman-Valenti