Weed Removal: A Simple Yet Vital Pest Management Strategy

— Written By Hunter Rhodes and last updated by
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The holiday season often signifies the end of our growing season for field grown crops. Most if not all summer crops have been harvested, winter cover crops are in place, and farm operations are slowing down a bit as they prepare for next year’s crop. One step that can be vital in a grower’s pest management strategy in preparation for the next year is destroying and/or removal of weeds around borders and structures such as light poles, fence posts, etc.

Most of the insect pests that growers combat every growing season use these weeds to overwinter and survive until spring. Once temperatures begin to rise and new crops emerge, the insects are located adjacent to the field, making the newly emerging plants a favorable host for the spring and summer. By eliminating the weeds these insects use to overwinter now, it is possible that you will greatly reduce insect populations seen throughout the next growing season.

A primary example is Tobacco Thrips, which often overwinter in the weeds that are commonly found on field borders. These insects use tobacco as a host, and can transmit Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) to tobacco plants soon after transplant. This can cause tobacco plants to develop improperly and eventually die. This will often lead to large yield losses across fields if the particular field has a large population of tobacco thrips. Removal of weeds around fields, especially in areas where TSWV has been an issue in the past, can help alleviate many issues associated with tobacco thrips. This is just one example out of hundreds of insects that have a negative impact on agriculture in our area. Weed removal and destruction is a simple yet vital tool for any grower to use for pest management and improve yields. 

Have a great holiday season, and as always remember the reason for the season!