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Integrated Weed Management

Several weed species both annuals and perennials, comprising of broad leaf weeds, grasses and sedges infest sugarcane fields. The estimates of reduction in cane productivity range from around 10% to as high as 70% depending upon the nature and intensity of the different weed species infesting the sugarcane fields.

The wide planting space adopted for sugarcane, the huge time taken for its germination and the frequent irrigation facilitate weeds to germinate and grow luxuriantly in the initial slow growing phase of sugarcane.

The most critical period of crop-weed competition in plant cane in tropical conditions has been found to be from 30 to 45 days after planting. In ratoon cane, this critical period has been found to be from 30 to 90 days after ratoon initiation.

It is important to control the weeds in sugarcane fields at their germination stage itself. Pre-emergence atrazine at a dosage of around 2.0 kg a.i./ha gives very good control of both broad leaf weeds and grasses germinating from seeds. It does not control weeds that grow from vegetative parts.

Soil disturbance during fertilizer application and earthing-up exposes weed seeds remaining below the soil surface and facilitate their germination. Due to this the weeds re-infest the sugarcane fields. These competition effect of these weeds is very low and do not warrant any control measure. But if the weeds are left uncontrolled, they might set seeds and add to the soil weed seed reserve. To prevent addition of weed seeds to the soil reserve, weed control measures need to be adopted even during the growing period of sugarcane. The following integrated weed management practices have been found to be effective and economical for control of weeds in sugarcane through out crop period.

Plant cane:

Atrazine at 1.0 kg a.i./ha (pre-emergence) at 3 DAP + one hand hoeing and weeding at 60 DAP + atrazine at 1.0 kg a.i./ha as directed spray to the soil at 90 DAP after full earthing up.

Ratoon cane:

Atrazine at 2.0 kg a.i./ha after irrigation and hoeing in moist soil at ratoon initiation stage

Continuous use of weed control methods like pre-emergence application of atrazine and conventional hand hoeing and weeding have led to establishment of perennial weeds like Cynodon and nut grass. These perennial weeds are posing severe threat to economical production of sugarcane. Pre-planting post-emergence application of glyphosate and in-crop directed application of glyphosate to weeds have been found to reduce the infestation of Cynodon and nut grass.

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