UD researchers share weed, crop trial info at annual Weed Day in Georgetown

On Wednesday, June 22, Mark VanGessel, University of Delaware’s extension’s specialist and professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, his team of weed science researchers, Barbara Scott and Quintin Johnson, and Mark Isaacs, director of Carvel Research and Education Center, welcomed growers and those serving in the agricultural industry to tour their research plots at the Carvel Center in Georgetown. Weed Day has become an annual agriculture tradition at UD’s experimental station.

Mark VanGessel explains how a roller/crimper is used for mechanical weed control in organic crop production. Photo:M.Walfred

Throughout the year UD Extension and research staff conducts unbiased studies on more than 70 trials (which amount to more than 700 plots) most are devoted to key agronomic crops, and evaluate their effectiveness of weed management. Chemical, mechanical and cultural practices are evaluated. Their findings are published in an annual guide of trial results that is made available to attendees and the results serve as the basis for educational programs throughout the year and provide the experience to answer questions from farmers and the agricultural industry. More than 50 attended Wednesday’s weed session.

The goal of Weed Day is to deliver the latest research. Communication to the industry is a key component in Delaware’s continued agronomic success and is part of Cooperative Extension’s outreach mission. Many of the plots are identified by signage indicating the particular study and methodology.

The trial studies included a variety of herbicide programs for conventional tillage and no-till production.  Included in the 2011 Delaware Weed Field Day publication are studies in field corn and sweet corn, soybean, watermelon, cantaloupes, winter wheat, peppers, lima beans and snap beans. VanGessel also introduced the tour group to a trial on organic production of corn, soybean and winter wheat. Weed management relies on cover crops and mechanical weed control. A roller/crimper is used to kill the cover crops prior to planting corn or soybeans by crimping the plant stems and rolling it down on the ground so it dies. A high residue cultivator is being used to control weeds after the corn and soybeans have begun to grow.

Kevin Ryan, a planner with the Sussex Conservation District and also a Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) attended the tour to keep informed and maintain his CCA accreditation. Ryan feels the tours provide a valuable visual experience. an important complement to what is shared in printed materials. “Book learning is one thing, but we learn a lot by seeing what does and doesn’t work in Delaware,” Ryan says.  Ryan appreciates the efforts and accessibility of UD Extension staff and researchers.  “They are always available to help any time, and what is learned here can be shared with our customers. It’s great,”  Ryan says of Weed Day.

According to a recent UD study, The Impact of Agriculture on Delaware’s Economy, agriculture in the First State contributes nearly $8 billion to the local economy.  As the study points out, production efficiency is vital keeping Delaware agriculture in the forefront of what is a very competitive sector.

Weed Day began inside Carvel’s meeting rooms with a brief overview of UD’s trials, what methods or herbicides have shown promising results, and weeds that remains challenging- morningglory, speedwell, annual ryegrass, herbicide-resistant pigweed and Palmer-aramanth. VanGessel also acknowledged the valuable contribution of student interns and the Carvel’s farm and administrative staff for the continued success and relevance of Weed Day. Later in the morning, Weed Day visitors were chauffeured on haystacks for a firsthand look at several field trials. View photos of Weed Day 2011 here.


Article and photos by Michele Walfred

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