Burning postharvest sugarcane residue is a standard practice to remove extraneous leaf material before spring regrowth. Live-fires were simulated from field-collected postharvest sugarcane residue and seeds of divine nightshade and itchgrass were exposed to dry and moistened postharvest residue (PHR) at four densities (6.1, 12.1, 18.2, and 24.2 Mg ha–1) and a nonburned control. The moisture content of residue exposed to simulated rainfall was 14% more in Experiment 2 than Experiment 1; however, burning PHR with 44% moisture when wind speeds were lower allowed the fire to continue and created a smoldering effect that reduced weed emergence by 23% when compared with burning PHR with 30% moisture during breezy conditions. The moistened 6.1 Mg ha–1 PHR treatment resulted in 53% more divine nightshade and itchgrass emergence when compared with dry 6.1 Mg ha–1 PHR after burning, and greater emergence was attributed to more seed survival for divine nightshade than itchgrass. The PHR moisture condition failed to influence the burn duration; however, the burn duration increased 103% and 56% as the amount of PHR increased from 6.1 to 12.1 Mg ha–1 and 12.1 to 18.2 Mg ha–1, respectively. The combination of high wind speeds and moistened PHR did not enhance the maximum burn temperature near the soil surface, but surface-deposited divine nightshade and itchgrass seeds were susceptible to prolonged exposure times at 100 C. Burning PHR from fields with poor stands or older ratoon, especially when PHR is abundantly wet, will not produce temperatures lethal to divine nightshade and itchgrass seeds. The fluid-filled and fleshy content that comprises divine nightshade fruit protected seed from short durations of high temperatures, but may not insulate seeds long enough when exposed to a smoldering fire.
Nomenclature: Divine nightshade, Solanum nigrescens M. Martens & Galeotti; itchgrass, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) Clayton; sugarcane, Saccharum spp. interspecific hybrids