Yellow nutsedge can readily puncture the plastic mulch used in plasticulture tomato production, compromising the benefits of the mulch and hastening its deterioration. Our objective was to identify a PRE-applied (i.e., under the plastic) treatment to minimize yellow nutsedge puncturing. In a greenhouse study a series of halosulfuron rates were PRE-applied to soil planted with yellow nutsedge tubers. These rates were also applied to established plants but with selective spray contact. Nonlinear regression revealed that the concentration of halosulfuron required to reduce dry weights by 90% (GR90) for PRE-applied halosulfuron was 11.6 g/ha. The GR90 for POST-applied halosulfuron was 17.1, 28.1, and 11.6 g/ha for foliar-only, soil-only and foliar plus soil spray contact, respectively. Thus halosulfuron was more effective as a POST-applied, foliar-contacting treatment. However, soil activity was deemed likely sufficient to suppress plastic puncturing. In a noncrop field study, suppression of puncturing was influenced (P < 0.05) by the rate of both PRE-applied halosulfuron and S-metolachlor. A field study with tomato was conducted to evaluate six selective treatments using plastic mulch, PRE-applied S-metolachlor, and the combination of PRE or PRE/POST-split applications of halosulfuron. Plastic alone increased tomato yield threefold compared with bare ground. The addition of various herbicide programs neither increased nor reduced yield compared with plastic alone. Selected herbicide treatments did reduce mulch puncturing but not to the extent or duration that would allow sequential crops to receive the full benefit of nonpunctured plastic.
Nomenclature: Halosulfuron, S-metolachlor, yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus L. CYPES, tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. ‘Florida 91’