Dose-response trials to determine the tolerance of summer squash and watermelon to fomesafen applied (over the top of black polyethylene mulch and respective row middles) pre-transplanting were performed between 2020 and 2021 at three Indiana locations: the Meigs Horticulture Research Farm (MEIGS), the Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center (PPAC), and the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center (SWPAC). Summer squash trials were performed at the MEIGS and PPAC locations, and watermelon trials were performed at the MEIGS and SWPAC locations. The experiments for both summer squash and watermelon had a split-plot arrangement in which the main plot was herbicide rate, and the subplot was cultivar. Summer squash injury included necrotic leaf margin, chlorosis, brown and white spots, and stunting. Fomesafen rates from 262 to 1,048 g ai ha-1 in 2020 at both locations, and from 280 to 1,120 g ai ha-1 in 2021 at MEIGS did not affect summer squash yield. However, in 2021 at PPAC, fomesafen applied at rates from 280 to 1,120 g ha-1 delayed summer squash harvest and decreased marketable yield from 95% to 61% compared with the nontreated control. Watermelon injury included bronzing and stunting. Fomesafen rates from 210 to 840 g ai ha-1 did not affect marketable watermelon yield or fruit number. Crop safety was attributed to rain, which washed off most of the herbicide from the polyethylene mulch before plants were transplanted or little to no rain after transplant. Injury was observed only when there was no rain before transplant followed by excessive rain shortly after transplant. Overall, the 1× rate used for each trial was safe for use 1 d before transplanting summer squash and 6 to 7 d before transplanting watermelon.
Nomenclature: Fomesafen; summer squash, Cucurbita pepo L.; watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai