In-Season Control of Weeds and Bird Pests of Peppers
» In-season weed management in peppers involves cultivation, hand-weeding, and herbicide applications.
» Most post-emergence herbicide treatments need to be applied between rows with shielded/hooded spray rigs.
» Birds feeding in pepper plantings can cause significant damage to pepper fruit.
This article will describe strategies that can be used during
the cropping season to protect yield and fruit quality from
weed and bird problems. This article will not cover strategies
that are initiated at or before planting such as soil
fumigation, pre-plant tillage, plastic mulches, or pre-plant
herbicide applications for weed management, or planting
decoy crops for bird management.
Whether transplanted or direct seeded, peppers are
typically slow to establish and do not compete well with
many weed species. Weeds that germinate during the first
six to eight weeks after planting can have a significant impact
on pepper yields (Figure 1).1 Weeds that emerge later in the
season have less of an impact on pepper yields but may
make harvest operations more difficult.
For direct seeded and non-mulched systems, mechanical
cultivation can be used to manage weeds between rows, but
hand-weeding is often needed to remove weeds within the
row. For direct seeded plantings, hand-weeding can be done
at the time of thinning. As many as three sessions of hand-
weeding may be needed during the season.1
For peppers planted on raised-beds with plastic mulch, pre-
plant herbicides and opaque or colored plastic mulches do a
good job of controlling most weeds under the mulch.
However, weeds can emerge from the transplant holes, and
these weeds need to be removed by hand or controlled by
the application of selective herbicides. Weeds growing
between beds can be controlled with cultivation, but weeds
growing along the edges of the plastic mulch may need to
be controlled using directed applications of herbicides.2
Several herbicides can be used to manage weeds after
transplanting or emergence (Table 1). However, many of the
available herbicides need to be applied using shielded spray
equipment or the sprays need to be directed at the bases of
plants to prevent the herbicides from coming into contact
with pepper foliage.1 Always consult the most up-to-date
product label for application directions and restrictions.
Some products may not be registered for use in all states.
Several species of birds can cause significant damage to
developing pepper fruit, and bird feeding habits can be
difficult to disrupt once established. The levels of feeding
can depend on the environmental conditions and the
availability of other food sources. When selecting
management strategies, growers should be aware of
common behaviors, such as the fact that most birds feed
primarily early in the morning and late in the afternoon.5
Multiple management strategies usually will need to be used
because birds easily adapt to many deterrence methods,
decreasing the effectiveness of the method.5 Some of the
common bird-feeding deterrence methods are as follows:
Visual Devices: Visual devices include simulated predators
(Figure 2) and mirrors or reflective tapes. Simulated
predators are most effective if they are lifelike, highly visible,
frequently moved, and used along with audio methods.5
Simulated predators include models of owls, hawks, and
snakes, as well as inflatable scare-balls with reflective
predator eyes and markings. Flying bird drones are available,
but the use of these is labor intensive. Different bird species
have different responses to these devices. For example,
blackbirds are frightened by the yellow color of scare balls,
while sparrows and finches are more tolerant, and robins,
and cedar waxwings ignore them.5
Mirrors and reflective tapes work best in direct sunlight, thus
they may not be effective early in the morning or late in the
day. Mirrors and reflecting devices, including reflective scare-
balls, should be suspended in such a way that they can
move freely with the wind to appear more life-like.5
Audio Methods: Audio methods include explosive sounds
from guns or propane cannons and recorded bird stress or
alarm calls. Explosive sounds can be good for short-term
control, but many bird species quickly get used to the noise,
especially if the sounds are stationary and go-off at regular
intervals. Distress and alarm calls are often effective longer
than are explosive sounds, but birds still become
accustomed to them over time.5
Repellents: Repellents containing substances such as chili
pepper extracts or bitter tasting compounds are not likely to
work for deterring bird feeding, as many birds are not
sensitive to these substances.5
Netting: Netting is the most effective means for preventing
bird feeding, but it is expensive and labor intensive to set up.
When selecting netting, choose a mesh size that is
appropriate for the pest species present, and provide space
between the net and the crop, as birds can feed through
netting. When the netting is first set up, the use of other
strategies, such as explosive sounds or distress calls, can
help break established feeding habits and improve the
effectiveness of the netting.5
1 Smith, R. and Daugovish, O. 2012. Integrated weed management. UC Pest Management Guidelines: Peppers, UC ANR Publication 3460.
2 Reiners, S., Bellinder, R., Curtis, P., Helms, M., Landers, A., McGrath, M., Nault, B., and Seaman, A. 2017. Cornell integrated crop and pest management guidelines for commercial vegetable production.
3 Egel, D., Foster, R., Maynard, E., Weller, S., Babadoost, M., Nair, A., Rivard, C., Kennelly, M., Hausbedk, M., Hutchinson, B., Eaton, T., Welty, C., and Miller, S. 2017. Midwest vegetable production guide for commercial growers 2017.
4 Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida 2015-2016. UF-IFSA.
5 Fitzgerald, S. 2013. Managing bird damage in crops. Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
For additional agronomic information, please contact your local seed representative. Developed in partnership with Technology, Development & Agronomy by Monsanto.
Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. The recommendations in this article are based upon information obtained from the cited sources and should be used as a quick reference for information about pepper pest management. The content of this article should not be substituted for the professional opinion of a producer, grower, agronomist, pathologist and similar professional dealing with this specific crop. SEMINIS DOES NOT WARRANT THE ACCURACY OF ANY INFORMATION OR TECHNICAL ADVICE PROVIDED HEREIN AND DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY FOR ANY CLAIM INVOLVING SUCH INFORMATION OR ADVICE. 170826144356 101817DME
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