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Burcucumber Control

September 4, 2009


Burcucumber Sicyos angulatus is a summer annual broadleaf weed, which is emerging in PA as a very troublesome weed, especially in agronomic crops. It emerages in PA between May and mid-August. This long emergance time makes control a bit of a challenge. Most plants that emerage after mid-July do not produce viable seeds, but the vines can still grow upwards of 20ft long. This aggressive growth habit can reduce yields and creates challenges for crop harvest.

Once burcumber is found in a field, getting rid of it is basically impossible. The first line of defense is prevention. If a field has burcucumber in it take the following steps to help avoid it spreading to another field.

1. Thoroughly clean all equipment used in the field especially tillage and harvest equipment. Seeds can get left in the harvest equipment and should be washed or vaccumed out. All tillage equipment should be check over for vines that may have wrapped around disks, shanks, and all other mechanical parts.
2. Avoid harvesting areas that are infested for grain. Harvesting for grain can spread more seeds in the field. Plus burcucumber seeds are hard to remove from corn and soybean seeds.
3. Plant certified weed-free seed. This will prevent the introduction of new species of weeds onto the farm.
4. Scout fields for burcucumber. Small, localized areas of burcucmber are easier to control.

Burcucumber control does not come as a magical insect or an awesome kill all spray, this weed requires a three fold line of defense. Cultural, mechanical, and chemical control methods are need to defeat this weed.

There are many cultural control practices. Promoting the rapid crop growth of a crop with proper soil fertility, correct varieites for region, and best management practices will help the crop out compete the burcucumber. Including crops like alfalfa and small grains in the rotation will help out compete the burcucumber. Harvest burcucumber infested fields for silage instead of grain. This will help reduce the amount of viable seeds.

Mechanical control is simple. Hand pull, mow, till, cultivate and harvest early to manage plant growth and prevent viable seed production. Switch heavy invested fields to no-till. Research suggests that no-till keeps the seeds on the soil surface, this means that more seeds will germinate faster and in less years.

The final front is chemical control. Herbicides are necessary for burcucumber management. It is best to use herbicides with residual activity. In corn including atrazine in the herbicide program will provide residual control.

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