Previous research with annual weed species indicates that critical timing of weed removal begins primarily after the two-leaf stage of onion, a time when postemergence (POST) herbicides can first be applied. Volunteer potato is difficult to manage and persists in onion fields of western United States. The purpose of this research was to quantify the duration of volunteer potato interference on yield and market grade of onion as well as potato tuber production. Volunteer potato interference caused a 5% yield loss before onions reached the two-leaf stage, at two of three locations. Relative to weed-free plots, onion bulb diameter was reduced as duration of interference increased, resulting in smaller proportions of marketable bulbs. Volunteer potato produced daughter tubers shortly after emergence, which explains, in part, weed persistence despite removal of shoots with contact herbicides, cultivation, and hand-weeding in onion. Significant losses in onion yield and bulb diameter are likely given current volunteer potato management systems.
Nomenclature: Volunteer potato, Solanum tuberosum L. ‘Russet Burbank’, ‘Ranger Russet’; onion, Allium cepa L. ‘Pinnacle’, ‘Vaquero’.