Watermelon growers face tough weed control challenges. One example: Crop seedlings need to be planted with plenty of elbow room – leaving wide spaces where broadleaf and grassy weeds can become established and reduce yields. To add to the dilemma, there simply aren’t many herbicides available for weed control in watermelon production.

A team of researchers decided to conduct a field study to determine if the HPPD inhibitor bicyclopyrone, which is already registered for use in corn, might also work in watermelon production. If so, it would introduce a new site of action and allow growers to rotate herbicides to reduce selection pressure for resistance.

A two-year field study evaluated the impact of bicyclopyrone on watermelon plants and the yields produced. Scientists found that a small percentage of plants exhibited foliar bleaching and stunting, but the symptoms subsided over time. There was no negative impact on watermelon yields, fruit size or marketability.

The research team concluded that registration of bicyclopyrone for use in watermelon would provide a safe new alternative for control of the many broadleaf and grass weed species found in watermelon fields.

Want to find out more? Read the article “Effect of Bicyclopyrone on Triploid Watermelon in Plasticulture,” now available in Vol. 32, Issue 4 of the journal Weed Technology. 

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