Research was initiated in March 2005 to test various integrated purple nutsedge management strategies over two growing seasons in an organic production system in which bell pepper was grown as a fall crop. Main plots consisted of integrated purple nutsedge management strategies from mid-March through July 2005 and 2006. The main-plot factors were (1) green polyethylene film, (2) clear polyethylene film, (3) turnip followed by (fb) green polyethylene film, (4) turnip fb clear polyethylene film, (5) tillage every 3 wk, and (6) fallow. Subplots consisted of hand-weeding, mulching with wheat straw, and no weeding following bell pepper transplanting in early August. Purple nutsedge tuber density was determined in March, August, and November each year. Viable tubers were categorized into three sizes: small (0.1 to 0.25 g), medium (0.26 to 0.50 g), and large (> 0.50 g). The initial tuber density averaged 500 small, 300 medium, and 110 large tubers m−2 in mid-March 2005 (910 total tubers m−2). Total tuber density increased to > 5,400 tubers m−2 in fallow, nonweeded plots by November 2006. Yearly tuber density remained relatively constant over the 2 yr when the fallow period was fb hand-weeding in the bell pepper crop. Density of large and medium tubers in the season-long management systems remained stable, whereas small tubers were prone to depletion over time. Frequent tillage or use of a polyethylene film with or without turnip resulted in a lower density of large tubers in November 2006 relative to fallow treatments, regardless of management intensity in bell pepper. The density of large tubers after 2 yr was similar among treatments involving frequent tillage or use of a polyethylene film with or without turnip, regardless of subplot treatment; this was also observed for medium tubers, but not for small tubers. All hand-weeded plots had comparable densities of small tubers, ranging from 25 to 194 viable tubers m−2. Intensive management involving frequent tillage or use of a translucent polyethylene film with or without turnip fb hand-weeding was not effective in eradicating purple nutsedge over two growing seasons. Purple nutsedge management costs calculated for each main-plot treatment revealed that use of a translucent polyethylene film alone was at least 4.5-fold more costly than frequent tillage. This research demonstrates that season-long management is essential to prevent purple nutsedge proliferation over time.
Nomenclature: Purple nutsedge, Cyperus rotundus L. CYPRO; bell pepper, Capsicum annum L. ‘Heritage’; turnip, Brassica rapa L. ‘Seventop’.