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by Ryan Neal - October 4, 2019
Here is a guest post from Benton County agent Ryan Neal, sharing the results of a
chemical mowing demo performed in blueberries!
Grass strip just before spraying
There are times in a person’s life when they want the grass to grow and times we wish
it would just stop.
In the row middles of a perennial crop, a grass strip can serve to prevent erosion
and provide a nice walkway for pickers. Chemical mowing aims to provide the best
of both worlds by maintaining a grass strip while reducing mowing.
4 nozzle boom inside box blade (top); testing on driveway to insure uniform coverage
Grass herbicides such as Select Max and Poast can easily be used among broadleaves
like blueberries without fear of damaging the crop. These products generally require
multiple, full rate applications to kill perennial grasses like Bermuda grass. The
goal was to reduce the grass growth but keep the strip green for appearance purposes.
The grass strip between rows was mowed on August 7th and Select Max was sprayed at
the ½, ¾, and full rates on every other row.
Select Max costs $.75 per oz. so at the ¾ rate would cost $9/acre. This product has
a 2 week PHI in blueberries. The Poast label has a section on orchard floor management
which recommends not spraying during bloom or less than 3 days after mowing.
25 gallon sprayer inside front end loader
For this demo a simple boom was attached to the inside of a box blade and a 25 gallon
sprayer was placed in the bucket of the tractor. The box blade was chosen because
most farms will have this attachment and it does minimize drift by blocking off on
3 sides. This would be particularly useful if a non-selective product like glyphosate
August 21st, 2019 (1 week after spraying)
August 28th, 2019 (2 weeks after spraying)
September 4th, 2019 (3 weeks after spraying)
September 11th, 2019 (4 weeks after spraying)
3/4 Rate (Untreated side had to be mowed on week 4)
Ultimately all treated middles had reduced grass growth. The ½ and ¾ rate treatments
kept the grass greener while the full rate treatment was browner than I would have
liked and probably killed some annual grass completely. The treated areas did not
have to be mowed for about 5 weeks while the untreated middles would have had to be
mowed 2-3 times. Considering the cost of product, setup time, and the extra trip
through the field to spray, the savings are not too significant.
Where I see the best use of this technique would be to spray two weeks before harvest
and possibly eliminate the need to mow during harvest. This would save time during
the busy season but also eliminate knocking off fruit from the bush while mowing.
It is important to note that if there is a lot of broadleaves or sedges in the middles
this product would have no effect and another product would need to be used.