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Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata L.) and broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica L.) are important agricultural commodities nationwide, including in New York (NY) and New Jersey (NJ). The management of pests, which includes weeds, is critically important for maximizing both yield quantity and quality. Weeds can directly reduce head numbers and weights through interspecific competition for shared resources. Additionally, weeds can indirectly impact yields by serving as an alternate host for pests and pathogens, by impeding harvest operations, and when weed seeds contaminate cabbage heads. Many fresh market and processing growers rely heavily on the use of herbicides to suppress weeds. Currently, there are relatively few active ingredients available for use in Brassica crops. Additionally, most registered products have limited spectrums of control that reduce their stand-alone efficacy. Consequently, the evaluation and registration of new herbicides has been and continues to be a high priority for cabbage and broccoli growers. Sulfentrazone, a protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibiting herbicide with both early postemergence and residual activity, has been registered for use in cole crops in several states, although published performance data is minimal. In addition to controlling annual broadleaf and some grass species, sulfentrazone could benefit to growers as it could help to enhance the suppression of difficult to control perennial weed species like yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.) and field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis L.). In 2021 and 2022, researchers at Cornell University and Rutgers University initiated small-plot research trials to evaluate the efficacy and crop safety of sulfentrazone in transplanted cabbage and broccoli. Four herbicide treatments were applied in May (Cornell) or August (Rutgers) and were replicated 4 times in each crop in a split plot design. Treatments included oxyfluorfen (560 g ai ha-1 pre-transplant), sulfentrazone at a low rate (116 g ai ha-1) and a high rate (233 g ai ha-1) both pre-transplant, and S-metolachlor (715 g ai ha-1) immediately post-transplant followed by (fb) oxyfluorfen (210 g ai ha-1) 14 days later. Weed control, expressed as weed cover and plant density counts m-2, and visual crop injury ratings were collected, weekly to bi-weekly, for 28 days after planting (DAP) and 42 DAP. Data were analyzed using PROC GLIMMIX IN SAS where location, crop, herbicide, and their interactions were main effects and year and replications nested within year were treated as random. Results of this study support that sulfentrazone has the potential to be an effective tool in a weed control program in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic conditions for cabbage and broccoli production. Specialty crop operations also have the highest share of labor costs as a proportion of total expenses compared to non-specialty crop operations. Hand weeding continues to play an important role in weed management programs but requires significant human labor. Immigration policies contribute to farmworker shortages, who are predominantly foreign-born and may not always be authorized to work in the US. Novel weed control technologies, which include equipment such as tractor-mounted electric weeders, vision-guided cultivators, or precision-sprayers, can reduce the inputs into weed management. Cross-disciplinary collaboration can help improve the adoption of these technologies while centering the dynamic needs of agricultural communities. High schools, colleges, and trade schools will play a role in building workforce capacity as labor demands shift in response to increased automation and mechanization in agriculture. Labor-saving, novel weed control technologies have the potential, particularly in the Northeast, to be incorporated into weed management programs to improve weed control while considering the needs of a changing workforce, especially agricultural worker health and safety.

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98 pages


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Herbicide; Labor; Specialty crops; Weed management


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Sosnoskie, Lynn

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Bihn, Elizabeth

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M.S., Horticulture

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Master of Science

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dissertation or thesis

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