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Light effects on rhizome morphogenesis in nutsedges (Cyperus spp.): implications for control by soil solarization

  • Carlene A. Chase, Thomas R. Sinclair (a1), Donn G. Shilling (a2), James P. Gilreath (a3) and Salvadore J. Locascio (a4)...


Soil solarization is a process of soil disinfestation that involves solar heating of moist soil covered with transparent polyethylene film. This nonchemical approach to controlling soil-borne pests is being investigated as an alternative to methyl bromide fumigation. Summer solarization controlled annual weed species and suppressed purple nutsedge. Although some nutsedge tubers sprouted despite the solarization treatment, the resulting shoots were almost always trapped under the clear solarization film. Conversely, in rows that were mulched with black film, nutsedge rhizomes punctured the film so that leaf expansion occurred above the film. In controlled pot experiments conducted in darkness, yellow nutsedge rhizomes readily penetrated 19- and 30-μm clear films as effectively as opaque films. Thicker clear films and bubble film reduced nutsedge penetration. In the greenhouse and laboratory, nutsedge penetration of transparent polyethylene film was inversely related to irradiance levels when the film was in direct contact with the soil. However, when there was a 5- to 10-mm space between the soil and the film, the lowest irradiance level (30 μmol m−2 s−1) was as effective as 320 μmol m−2 s−1 in reducing penetration by purple nutsedge. The film penetration by nutsedge rhizomes appears to be linked to a light-dependent morphological change from rhizome growth to leaf development, which occurs before film penetration with clear mulch and after film penetration with opaque mulch. The alternate sprouting and foliar scorching of nutsedge shoots trapped under clear films could potentially be exploited to deplete nutsedge tubers that occur at soil depths that do not develop lethal temperatures under soil solarization.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. USDA-ARS, Agronomy Physiology and Genetics Laboratory, P.O. Box 110965, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611;


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