Russian thistle is the most problematic broadleaf weed for spring-sown crops in the low-precipitation (< 340 mm yr−1) region of the inland Pacific Northwest of the United States. A 6-yr field experiment was conducted at Lind, WA, to evaluate three postharvest control strategies for Russian thistle in continuous annual spring wheat. Postharvest treatments were (1) tillage with low-disturbance overlapping undercutter V-blade sweeps; (2) paraquat diuron at the labeled rate, which is widely used by farmers; and (3) an untreated check (letting Russian thistle grow unhindered). The undercutter V-sweep consistently killed all Russian thistle with essentially no residue burial, and no seed was produced. In contrast, the paraquat diuron treatment halted Russian thistle dry biomass production, but plants continued to extract soil water and produce an average of 310 seeds m−2 on the lower branches. In the check, Russian thistle produced an average of 700 kg ha−1 postharvest dry biomass and 5,670 seeds m−2. The undercutter V-sweep treatment had significantly more water in the 180-cm soil profile at time of wheat harvest, after a killing frost in October, and in mid March as well as greater spring wheat grain yield compared with the herbicide and check treatments. Results show that postharvest tillage with an undercutter V-sweep consistently achieved 100% control, retained ample wheat residue on the surface to control erosion, and was by far the most effective treatment in this experiment.
Nomenclature: Diuron, paraquat, Salsola iberica Sennen & Pau SASKA, wheat, Triticum aestivum L