Integrated Management of Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) in Sugarcane

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Abstract

Bermudagrass is a difficult perennial weed to manage in Louisiana sugarcane. Research was conducted to compare interrow tillage practice, postharvest residue management, and herbicide placement on bermudagrass proliferation and sugarcane yield. Tillage frequencies included conventional (four tillage operations per season), reduced (two tillage operations), and no-till. Residue management practices included removal by burning, sweeping from row top into the wheel furrow, and not removed. Spring herbicide placement treatments included broadcast, banded, or no herbicide application. With conventional tillage, broadcast and banded herbicide applications resulted in similar bermudagrass cover in the first and second ratoon crops, but bermudagrass cover was greater when using banded applications (22%) compared with broadcast application (15%) in the third-ratoon crop. Bermudagrass cover was greatest with no-till. When herbicides were banded, bermudagrass cover was greater in reduced tillage than conventional tillage in all three ratoon crops. Postharvest residue management did not affect bermudagrass ground cover. In plant cane, sugarcane yields were lowest when herbicide was not applied. In ratoon crops, sugarcane and sugar yield were reduced when herbicide was not applied regardless of tillage practice. Cane and sugar yield were generally equal when comparing reduced and conventional tillage. Total sugarcane yield (4 crop yr) for the no-till program was reduced 11, 15, and 25%, respectively, when herbicides were broadcast, banded, and when herbicide was not applied, compared with conventional tillage. Failure to remove residue reduced sugarcane yield by 5, 7, and 10% in first, second, and third ratoons, respectively, compared with burning. Eliminating unnecessary tillage practices can increase profitability of sugarcane through reduced costs, but it will be imperative that herbicide programs be included to provide adequate bermudagrass control and that postharvest residue is removed to promote maximum sugarpostane yield.

Nomenclature: Metribuzin; pendimethalin; bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.; sugarcane, Saccharum interspecific hybrid.

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