Small-seeded vegetable crop production is challenged by poor emergence, stand establishment and canopy development, as well as a lack of effective weed control options. The potential use of plant growth regulators such as gibberellic acid (GA) could enhance early emergence and growth rates while potentially synchronizing weed germination with control tactics. In response, a controlled environment study was conducted to investigate the effects of GA on garden beet, cabbage, carrot, and onion. At 7 d after seeding (DAS) carrot emergence was greater when carrot seeds were treated with 2, 4, 8, 16, or 64 ppm GA compared with nontreated seeds. Total carrot emergence over the study period was 14% greater when seeds were treated with 4 ppm GA compared with nontreated seeds. Treatment of cabbage with as low as 2 to 4 ppm GA increased cabbage emergence rate and total plant emergence over the study period relative to nontreated seeds. Onion response to GA treatment was variable and unremarkable and was hypothesized to be influenced by seed dormancy because emergence was also low with the nontreated seeds. The GA rates that stimulated vegetable crop seed germination and emergence were then explored with three common weed species to determine whether a similar response was observed. If so, GA could be used to stimulate weed emergence in synchrony with management tactics. Palmer amaranth emergence was strongly affected by GA treatment, whereby the total number of emerged plants was 48% greater when 4 ppm GA was applied than in the nontreated check. Velvetleaf emergence at 3 DAS with the 4 and 8 ppm GA was 2.9 and 3.0 plants pot–1, respectively, compared to no emergence in the nontreated pots. Redroot pigweed emergence was not affected by GA treatment at any rate.
Nomenclature: gibberellic acid; Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson; redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus L.; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medik.; cabbage, Brassica oleracea L.; carrot, Daucus carota L. var. sativus Hoffm.; garden beet, Beta vulgaris L.; onion, Allium cepa L.