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Alternative Weed Management - 12/14/17

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Star Route Farms and University of San Francisco hosted a group of 30 producers from around the region to dig into the art and science of weed management in row crop systems.  UC Weed Specialist, Steve Fennimore came from Salinas to talk through the life cycles of weeds, their strengths and weaknesses, and the importance of a relentless program aimed at reducing the seed bank in field soils.

Among the strategies discussed for reducing the seed bank were:


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  • Manage amendments like manure and compost to ensure temperatures get high enough to kill weed seed
  • Avoid bringing new seeds into fields on boots, tractors and tools
  • Do not allow weeds to go to seed

Prior to planting:

  • Preparation of stale beds including pre-irrigation to germinate weed seed
  • Pre-plant destruction of newly germinated weeds through
    • Flaming
    • Shallow Tillage
    • Solarization
    • Steam (still in experimental phase)
  • Establishing mulches with plastics or cover crop debris and other organic plant material


  • Flaming prior to crop emergence – particularly slow germinating direct-sown crops like carrots
  • Mechanical cultivation, including in-row weeding tools like the finger-weeders shown in this video from Cooperative Extension, Monterey County

Following Steve Fennimore’s presentation, there were field demonstrations of tractor and ATV-mounted flaming rigs from Star Route Farms and Gospel Flat Farm as well as a multi-purpose cultivation rig built by Gospel Flat’s Mickey Murch.

Interpretation during both the presentation and field demo was provided for Spanish-speaking crew and equipment operators.

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Send follow-up questions to: Steve Fennimore at the US Ag Research Station in Salinas at: safennimore@ucdavis.edu or 831-755-2896

Additional resources mentioned in discussion during the workshop: