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Feasibility of Organic Weed Management in Sweet Corn and Snap Bean for Processing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Heidi J. Johnson*
Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Jed B. Colquhoun
Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Alvin J. Bussan
Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Richard A. Rittmeyer
Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Corresponding author's E-mail:


There is significant interest from processors in producing organic sweet corn and snap bean. However, large-scale production is necessary for this to be a practical and economical venture for processors. This study focused on the feasibility of managing weeds in organic sweet corn and snap bean, utilizing methods that are practical in large hectarage. Tactics such as rotary hoe, interrow cultivation, and a stale seedbed were evaluated alone or in combination. Hand-weeded and herbicide-based treatments were included for each crop for comparison. Percentage weed control, weed biomass, and crop yield were quantified, and net profit was calculated for each treatment. Organic weed management was feasible in snap bean, with yields similar among several of the organic treatments and the herbicide treatment in all 3 yr of the study. Interrow cultivation was the most effective means of organic weed control in snap bean. Organic weed management was possible in snap bean because it is a short-season crop and an effective competitor with weeds in the crop row. Organic weed management was more difficult in sweet corn because of the longer crop season and poor competition with weeds in the crop row. In sweet corn, the organic treatment involving three interrow cultivations was the only one consistently similar in yield to the herbicide treatments. Higher net profits were attained for most of the organic treatments in both crops because of the organic premium. Market saturation and organic premium adjustments are factors for grower consideration in this potential industry, particularly for sweet corn production.

Existe un interés significativo entre los procesadores en la producción orgánica de elote dulce (Zea mays L.) y de habichuelas (Phaseolus vulgaris L). Sin embargo, la producción en gran escala es necesaria para que esta sea una actividad práctica y económica. Este estudio se enfocó en la factibilidad del manejo de malezas en el cultivo de Zea mays L y de Phaseolus vulgaris L orgánicos, utilizando métodos que sean prácticos en grandes superficies. Las estrategias tales como el uso de rotocultivador, cultivación interlineal y semilleros añejos fueron evaluadas individualmente o en combinación. El deshierbe manual y tratamientos con herbicidas se incluyeron para cada cultivo y así poder compararlos. El porcentaje de control de maleza, la biomasa de la misma y el rendimiento del cultivo se cuantificaron y el beneficio neto se calculó para cada tratamiento. El manejo orgánico de malezas fue factible en las Phaseolus vulgaris L, con rendimientos similares entre varios de los tratamientos orgánicos y el tratamiento con herbicidas en todos los tres años del estudio. El cultivo inter-lineal en las Phaseolus vulgaris L fue el medio más efectivo de control orgánico de malezas. El manejo orgánico de malezas fue posible en el cultivo de Phaseolus vulgaris L debido a que es un cultivo de corta duración y es un competidor efectivo de las malezas. El control antes mencionado fue más difícil en la producción de Zea mays L. debido a que es un cultivo de más larga duración y no compite bien con las malezas. En lo relativo al cultivo de Zea mays L., el tratamiento orgánico que incluyó tres cultivaciones inter-lineales, fue el único consistentemente similar en rendimiento en comparación a los tratamientos con herbicida. Se lograron mayores beneficios netos para la mayoría de los tratamientos orgánicos en ambos cultivos debido al mejor precio obtenido para este tipo de productos. La saturación del mercado y los ajustes en la diferencia de precio son factores que los agricultores deberían de considerar en esta industria potencial, particularmente para la producción de Zea mays L.

Weed Management—Techniques
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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