Moisture, heat and sunshine cause garden plants to grow – but unfortunately the same is true for weeds! If you’re not careful, your garden might start looking more like an overgrown jungle and less like a properly tended and manicured garden! Early season weed control is really key, and most weeds are easier to extract (root and all) when the ground is moist so spring is an ideal time to target them! The Utah Pests Team recently included a weed control overview in their most recent Vegetable IPM advisory. We could all use a reminder on proper weed management – and the included resources will really help you sharpen your weed management knowledge. Enjoy!
Weed control is a tedious but necessary task for all farmers and gardeners. Weeds are a threat because they take away things that cash crops need to survive. Such as sun, water, and nutrients. Specific species of weeds (such as those in the Brassicaceae and Solanaceae families) are known to harbor insect and disease pests that can later target vegetable crops. With Integrated Pest Management we can control weeds through mechanical, cultural, chemical, or biological methods.
The most traditional way of weed removal is using hand tools. Common tools for this include a shovel, rake, and hoe.
Mulching is a way of cultural control that uses a cover to block the soil surface preventing weed germination and growth. There are all sorts of materials one can use for mulching their vegetable crops. This includes organic materials such as straw, wood chips, or leaves. There are also synthetic materials available such as plastic or paper rolls.
Cutting back weeds can prevent the species from developing to the seed stage. Lawn mowers and string trimmers (“weed eaters”) are generally effective.
Herbicides are used as a chemical method of weed control. However, it is important to know that herbicides are not appropriate for all growing situations as there is a risk of drift that can damage desirable plants and promote colonization of tolerant weed species. Herbicides can either be selective (plant specific) or nonselective (affect all treated plants). Herbicides can be applied to the soil or the foliage near the production site.
Registered Herbicide Options for Vegetable Production (Utah Vegetable Production & Pest Management Guide)
Weed Control Chapter (USU Master Gardener Program)
Common Weeds of the Yard and Garden (USU Field Guide)
How to Prevent Weeds: Fence Lines (Video)
How to Prevent Weeds: Equipment Cleaning (Video)
How to Prevent Weeds: Healthy Fields (Video)
Sustainable Weed Management (Webinar)