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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 684: Meeting of the Physiology Section of the European Association for Potato Research

THE EFFECT OF MECHANICAL WEED CONTROL TECHNIQUE AND IRRIGATION METHOD ON YIELD, TUBER QUALITY AND WEED SUPPRESSION IN ORGANIC POTATO

Authors:   C. Mirabelli, G. Colla, A. Fiorillo, M. Cardarelli, Y. Rouphael, R. Paolini
Keywords:   Solanum tuberosum L., non-chemical weed control, water management, organic production, commercial tuber yield, tuber size uniformity
Abstract:
An experiment was conducted in 2003 in Viterbo (Central Italy) to check the effects of different mechanical weed control techniques and irrigation methods in organic potato. A split-plot design in randomized blocks was applied, with the irrigation method (drip or sprinkler) in main plots and the control treatment (hoeing, hoeing + hilling, absence of control and weed-free crop) in subplots. The cultivar ‘Desiree’ was planted on 28 March at a density of 6.7 plants m-2. Total water supply was 420 and 336 mm for sprinkler and drip irrigation respectively. Irrespective of irrigation method, both mechanical control techniques strongly reduced weed density (by 75% on average compared to the absence of control), but only hoeing + hilling strongly suppressed weed biomass (65 vs 45% of hoeing). Both treatments gave clear biomass suppression, 67% on average, of the main species (Chenopodium album). Total and commercial tuber yield decrease compared to weed-free crop was 20.9% for hoeing and 12.4% for hoeing + hilling, thus giving acceptable weed control and yield decrease, while also favoured tuber size and uniformity. Compared to sprinkler irrigation drip irrigation reduced weed density and biomass (by 33 and 45% on average) and increased total and commercial tuber yield (by 50% on average) and medium and higher-diameter tuber yield portion, allowing 25% water saving. Results suggest that one hoeing + hilling during the cycle can be a good weed control strategy in organic potato under moderate weed infestation levels, while drip irrigation seems more suitable than sprinkler irrigation.
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