Field studies were conducted in 2010 and 2011 at Belle Glade, FL, to evaluate the influence of phosphorus (P) applications (98, 196, and 293 kg P ha-1) on the critical period of weed control (CPWC) in lettuce. Natural populations of mixed weed species were allowed to interfere with lettuce in a series of treatments of both increasing duration of weed interference and the duration of weed-free period imposed within 98, 196, and 293 kg P ha-1 levels added to the soil. The beginning and end of the CPWC for each P fertilization level based on a 5% acceptable marketable fresh lettuce yield loss level was determined by fitting log-logistic and Gompertz models to represent the increasing duration of weed interference and the duration of weed-free period, respectively. The CPWC in lettuce was estimated to be 4.6, 3.4, and 2.3 wk at 98, 196, and 293 kg P ha-1, respectively. The beginning of the CPWC was delayed at the highest P fertilization level (293 kg P ha-1), whereas the end of the CPWC was hastened at the same P fertilization level. Our study shows that inadequate levels of P fertilization in lettuce result in the need for more-intensive weed management practices to attain acceptable yields.
Nomenclature: Lettuce, Lactuca sativa L.