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Weed Control, Yield, and Quality of Processing Tomato Production under Different Irrigation, Tillage, and Herbicide Systems

  • Kipp F. Sutton (a1), W. Thomas Lanini (a1), Jefferey P. Mitchell (a1), Eugene M. Miyao (a2) and Anil Shrestha (a3)...


A field experiment was conducted near Davis, CA, during the 2003 and 2004 summer growing seasons to compare weed control, yield, and fruit quality in different irrigation and tillage systems in processing tomato. Trial design was a subplots with the main plots as subsurface drip irrigation or furrow irrigation, subplots were standard tillage or conservation tillage, and sub-subplots were herbicide or no herbicide. The hypothesis was that subsurface drip irrigation could limit surface soil wetting and thus inhibit germination and growth of weeds equal to or better than standard tillage and/or herbicides. In both 2003 and 2004, weed densities in the subsurface drip irrigation treatments were over 98% lower than the levels in furrow irrigation treatments. In addition, weed densities were lower in the subsurface drip–conservation till–no herbicide treatment than in any of the furrow irrigation treatments, including the furrow irrigation–standard tillage–herbicide treatments. The time required for a hand-hoeing crew to remove weeds was 5 to 13 times greater in furrow irrigation treatments compared to subsurface drip irrigation treatments. Weed biomass on beds at tomato harvest was 10 to 14 times greater in the furrow systems as compared to the subsurface drip irrigation systems. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of subsurface drip irrigation in controlling weed germination and growth, compared to tillage or herbicide applications. Tomato yield was higher in the subsurface drip irrigation treatment compared to furrow irrigation in 2004. Herbicide treatment increased yield in 2004, but only in the furrow irrigation treatment in 2003. Fruit brix level was not related to treatment in 2003, but was lower in the subsurface drip irrigation plots in 2004. These results indicate that subsurface drip irrigation can reduce weed competition in conservation tillage systems, without requiring herbicide applications.


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