Providing vegetable growers with tools for weed control




The goal of my research program is to identify and evaluate multiple strategies than can be integrated to control weeds in vegetable and fruit crops. The strategies may be traditional (chemical, mechanical) or more unusual (cover crops, natural products, weed biology/ecology, crop rotations). The intention is to develop methods of ensuring continued production of healthy foods while maintaining economic sustainability for growers and the safety of the food supply and environment.


Agricultural chemical use continues to be scrutinized in the U.S. and globally. New weed-control strategies need to be found if we are to reduce herbicide use without relying on hand weeding. Herbicides have enabled farmers to produce large quantities of healthful fruits and vegetables. While herbicides will continue to play a significant role in production, through integration of multiple strategies, e.g. cover crops, interseeding, reduced tillage, herbicide use may decrease by half. This will benefit the producer, consumer, and the environment. It is however, essential to maintain economically sustainable production systems.


The research has determined the potential for using crop rotations, interseeded cover crops, new cultivation tools, and reduced herbicide rates in numerous vegetable crops. Processing and fresh-market vegetables have been the targeted crops. Recently strawberries and grapes were added to the list and are very important for New York growers.

Because of my involvement in the Interregional Program 4 with USDA, which supports pesticide use registration in specialty crops, the output from my program has had an impact on herbicide use in the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico. New, environmentally safer, low-dose herbicides have been registered in many specialty crops. The focus continues to be on new products, new uses, reduced rates—integration of strategies.


Statewide, usage rates of six herbicides have decreased 33% to 75% in seven crops, leading to an annual reduction of 60,000 pounds of active ingredient. Despite this reduction in total use, new uses for 14 herbicides have been registered in the state for no less than 16 different vegetables.

Submitted by: 

  • Björkman, Thomas

Researchers involved: 

  • Kikkert, Julie
  • Hoepting, Christine A
  • Bornt, Charles D
  • Wallace, Russell
  • Batts, Roger
  • Hahn, R. R
  • Bjorkman, Thomas N
  • Brainard, Daniel C

Organizations involved: 


International focus: 

  • Georgia
  • India
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

New York State focus: 

  • Delaware
  • Albany
  • Allegany
  • Broome
  • Cattaraugus
  • Cayuga
  • Chautauqua
  • Cortland
  • Erie
  • Genesee
  • Lewis
  • Livingston
  • Madison
  • Monroe
  • Niagara
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga
  • Ontario
  • Orange
  • Orleans
  • Oswego
  • Saratoga
  • Schoharie
  • Seneca
  • Steuben
  • Suffolk
  • Tompkins
  • Ulster
  • Wayne
  • Yates