Velvetleaf is one of the most significant and fastest spreading alien weeds in Europe, and it is a difficult weed to control in conventional sugarbeet. Laboratory experiments were carried out in 2007 and 2008 and field experiments were carried out in 2006, 2007, and 2008 with the aim of finding effective herbicide combinations and optimum timing of control. Herbicides containing the active ingredients phenmedipham, desmedipham, ethofumesate, clopyralid, and triflusulfuron were all tested at different timings. Phenmedipham desmedipham ethofumesate gave 87% velvetleaf control in pot experiments when applied at the growth stages of velvetleaf cotyledons and one true leaf, but only 27 to 42% control in field trials. Triflusulfuron gave 76% control in pot experiments and 83 to 88% control in field experiments. The timing of the first and second herbicide applications was very important: the first application of herbicides must be at the cotyledon stage of velvetleaf. A 1-wk delay in first application reduced herbicide efficacy by 8%. A 5-d period between the first and second treatments gave 93% control, while a 10-d period between the first and second treatments gave only 77% control. Sugarbeet yield decreased by 60 to 86% due to competition with velvetleaf when a standard herbicide combination (phenmedipham desmedipham ethofumesate) was used, and the velvetleaf produced between 6,700 and 14,800 seeds m−2. Inclusion of triflusulfuron in the herbicide treatment significantly reduced velvetleaf seed production to between 200 and 4,700 seeds m−2. In most cases, inclusion of triflusulfuron increased sugarbeet yield. Better velvetleaf control occurred in years when the sugarbeet canopy developed early and the index of leaf area of sugarbeet was higher.
Nomenclature: Clopyralid; desmedipham; ethofumesate; phenmedipham; triflusulfuron; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medik.; sugarbeet, Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris var. altissima L