Purple nutsedge is among the most troublesome weeds of vegetables in the Southeast US and a substantial impediment in the search for methyl bromide alternatives. Greater understanding of the environmental cues that regulate tuber sprouting may assist in improved nutsedge management. Experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of diurnal temperature variation on sprouting of purple nutsedge tubers. Two temperature regimes were evaluated: the first averaged 28 C, with daily fluctuations ranging from 0 to 19.5 C; the second temperature regime averaged 16 C, with daily fluctuations ranging from 0 to 18.5 C. When average temperature was 28 C, cumulative tuber sprouting ranged from 88 to 92%, with no detectable differences among diurnal fluctuations. The high average temperature in the first study may have negated any type of enforced sprouting suppression. However, when average temperature was lowered to 16 C (simulating early spring diurnal fluctuations under polyethylene mulch), there was a positive linear correlation between maximum tuber sprouting and temperature variation. With an average temperature of 16 C, the absence of temperature variation resulted in 52% purple nutsedge sprouting, while 87% sprouting occurred when daily temperature varied 18.5 C at the same average temperature. The use of various types of mulching material can affect average soil temperatures and diurnal variations, potentially shifting nutsedge emergence. Further studies are needed to determine if these data on tuber sprouting in response to alternating temperatures can facilitate more efficient weed management.
Nomenclature: Purple nutsedge, Cyperus rotundus L. CYPRO