The influence of weeds on cranberry yield and quality is not well known and cannot be extrapolated from other cropping systems given the unique nature of both cranberry production and the weed species spectrum. The work presented here addresses this need with four common weed species across multiple production seasons and systems in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and New Jersey: Carolina redroot, earth loosestrife, bristly dewberry, and polytrichum moss. The objectives were to use these representative species to quantify the impact of weed density, groundcover, and biomass on several cranberry yield components and related interactions with other cranberry pests, and to determine whether these relationships were consistent enough across seasons to be reliably used in weed management decision-making. The relationships between Carolina redroot and bristly dewberry growth measures and marketable cranberry yield were highly significant (P ≤ 0.001 in 12 of 13 regressions) and consistent across growing seasons, but not significant for similar regressions with earth loosestrife. In particular, the strong relationship between Carolina redroot and bristly dewberry visual groundcover observations and cranberry yield suggests a simple way for growers and crop scouts to reliably estimate yield loss. The relationship between polytrichum moss biomass and cranberry yield was also significant in both years, but not consistent between years. Weed competition also affected cranberry quality, in that Carolina redroot density was strongly related to the percentage of insect-damaged fruit and bristly dewberry growth reduced cranberry color development. On a practical level, this information can be used to educate growers, consultants, agrichemical registrants, and regulators about the impacts of weeds on cranberry yield and quality, and to economically prioritize management efforts based on the weed species and extent of infestation.
Nomenclature: Bristly dewberry; Rubus hispidus L.; Carolina redroot; Lachnanthes caroliana (Lam.) Dandy; polytrichum moss; Polytrichum commune Hedw.; earth loosestrife; Lysimachia terrestris (L.) Britton; Sterns & Poggenb.; cranberry; Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.