Vegetable injury and yield loss has occurred when applying halosulfuron to low-density polyethylene mulch (LDPE) prior to transplanting. Research determined vegetable crop response to halosulfuron applied over LDPE mulch from 1 to 28 d prior to transplanting using (1) temperature effects in aqueous solution in laboratory experiments, (2) analytical evaluation of degradation from LDPE under field conditions, and (3) a field bioassay. Halosulfuron stability was evaluated on a thermal gradient table for temperatures at 10 to 42 C for 15 d. Half-life was inversely related to temperatures ranging from 38.5 d at 20 C to 3.2 d at 42 C, with little to no degradation at temperatures of 11 and 15 C. Analytical data indicated that the field half-life of halosulfuron at 26 or 52 g ha-1 applied to LDPE mulch under dry conditions was 2.6 and 2.8 d, respectively. Given the changes in the microclimate effects at the mulch surface by absorption of solar radiation, daily thermal energy quantified halosulfuron degradation (at the same rates) to be 51 and 55 MJ m-2, respectively. At 21 d after treatment (DAT), 90% of halosulfuron had dissipated from the mulch, with none detectable 35 DAT under dry conditions. When watermelon or yellow crookneck squash was transplanted into mulch previously treated with halosulfuron at 79 g ha-1, plant growth and development were equal to nontreated controls as long as there was a 14 d prior to transplant (DPT) interval accompanied by 13.5 cm of rain, or a 17 DPT interval accompanied by 6.2 cm of rain. However, at 79 g ha-1 applied at 9 or 1 DPT in 2013, and 1 DPT in 2014, halosulfuron injured yellow squash and reduced yield and fruit number. Halosulfuron at 79 g ha-1 applied 1 DPT significantly reduced watermelon yield in 2013, which was confirmed by vine length and plant biomass reductions in 2014. Halosulfuron POST controls Cyperus spp. in mulch vegetable production, but time and rainfall are required for dissipation to occur in order to prevent injury and yield loss.
Nomenclature: Halosulfuron; yellow crookneck squash, Cucurbita pepo L.; watermelon, Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai.