U of A to host automated weeding and thinning demonstration

Agmechtronix mechanical lettuce thinnerTechnology experts and businesses from throughout the West Coast and beyond will gather at a University of Arizona-sponsored field day Oct. 24 in Yuma to demonstrate the latest automated weeding and thinning technologies.

The 7:30 a.m. workshop will be held at the Yuma Agricultural Center, 6425 West 8th St. The event will be recognized for continuing education credit in both Arizona and California.

As part of the workshop:

  • Nick Copass, Keithly-Williams Fabrication, Inc., Yuma, and Ryan Herbon, Agmechtronix, LLC, Silver City, N.M., will discuss the Agmechtronix automated row crop thinner
  • Matt Watson, Mantis Ag Technology, Gonzalez, Calif., will cover the latest in visual recognition technology for row crop farming.
  • Tony Koselka, Vision Robotics, Corp., San Diego, will discuss thinning lettuce with robotic vision technology.
  • Christian Kirchhoff, K.U.L.T. – Kress, Gmbr., Vaihingen an der Enz, Germany, and Sam Hitchcock Tilton, K.U.L.T – Kress, LLC, New Holland, Pa., will talk about precision and in-row mechanical weeding.
  • Pete Davey, Sutton Ag Enterprises, Inc., Salinas, Calif., will cover labor-saving cultivar guidance systems.
  • David Fountain, Solex Corp., Dixon, Calif., will highlight the Garford RoboCrop Weeder/Thinner, a camera-guided system with new and improved electric motor rotors.
  • Mark Siemens, Dept. of Biosystems Engineering, University of Arizona, will discuss high-precision in-row weeding.
  • Isaac Olivia, Pacific Ag Rentals, LLC, Salinas, Calif., will highlight the Robovator, an automated in-line weeding solution.
  • Nicholas Bahr, Keithly-Willams Fabrication, Inc., Yuma, Ariz., will talk about automated transplanting.
  • Thomas Palomares, Farmwise Labs, Inc., San Francisco, will highlight an autonomous vegetable weeder.

Growers are invited to see the latest technologies demonstrated and talk with company representatives.


War on Weeds: Squarrose knapweed


This perennial weed has a small presence in Idaho, thought to have been brought in in grass seed. This terrible invader can be found in all the states south of Idaho. It is listed as an EDRR (early-detection rapid-response) noxious weed. Squarrose knapweed is a long-lived taprooted perennial with pink to white flowers with downward-curved bracts. The leaves are deeply lobed and it grows in a single clump to a height of 2 feet. It looks like Spotted knapweed, but grows like a small bush instead of an individual plant with few growing shoots, and it does not have the dark-colored bracts on the flower head.

Attack: The difference in this knapweed is that it adapts well to desert habitats and overtakes all the native flora. This is why it is one of the weeds that the Bureau of Land Management in central Utah spends a lot of resources to contain and control. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds that remain viable for seven to 10 years. The plant has no forage value for livestock nor wildlife.

Defense: The thought that this weed is most likely in the area and undetected is a great concern to all of us in the weed-control profession. Mechanical control is difficult and there are just a few biological control insects available. Numerous herbicides are effective on this weed. On pasture and range sites, herbicides such as Tordon 22K, Milestone, Opensight, Curtail and Prescott are most effective. All of these herbicides will translocate into the root for better control than 2,4-D. Fall is one of the best times to control this invader. Call your weed-control superintendent if you think you have found this new invader.


Whitely-Noll: Broadleaf weeds vulnerable in the fall

For all who have been anxiously waiting, now is the time to control broadleaf weeds in your lawns.

Image result for Whitely-Noll: Broadleaf weeds vulnerable in the fallWhether they’re actively growing to prepare for winter or newly germinated, these weeds are vulnerable now. Control will be more effective than when the weeds are more established or during times of slow growth, when they’re less receptive to chemical applications.

Dandelions, henbit, chickweed and knotweed can all be controlled effectively in the fall. During late October and early November, dandelions, a broadleaf perennial, are producing a new flush of growth. Henbit and chickweed, which are broadleaf annual weeds, are newly germinated and easy to kill.

Even established dandelions are easier to control because they are actively moving resources from the top portion of the plant into the roots. That means the plants will absorb herbicides as they would nutrients, killing them from the bottom up. Anyone who has tried to pull dandelions by hand knows that leaving any part of the root in the ground will result in a new plant sprouting. By using properly timed chemical control, every part of the plant is killed, preventing resprouting.

These broadleaf weeds can be controlled with combination products such as Trimec, Weed-B-Gon, or Weed-Out that contain 2,4-D, MCPP and Dicamba. For optimal results, spray on a day that is 50 degrees or higher. A warmer day encourages weeds to grow more, moving more chemicals to the roots. Cooler days can be effective but may slow the process and, in some cases, may render the chemicals ineffective. Weed Free Zone (also sold under the name Speed Zone) contains the three active ingredients mentioned above, plus carfentrazone. It will give a quicker response than other products, especially as temperatures approach 50 degrees.

Knotweed, another annual broadleaf, thrives in compacted soils. Aerating your soil creates an unfavorable environment for knotweed and is the best first step in control. Maintaining a healthy lawn will help eradicate this and other weeds.

Unlike the newly germinated henbit and chickweed, knotweed germinates in late February or early March, so fall is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Pendimethalin (Scotts Halts), Surflan (Weed Impede, Barricade, Dimension and XL) are all labeled for knotweed. Pendimethalin, Barricade and Dimension can be used on all Kansas turf grasses, while Surflan and XL can only be used on tall fescue and warm-season grasses.

In the spring, a post-emergence product, such as Trimec, Weed-Out, Weed-B-Gon or Weed Free Zone, can be applied after knotweed has germinated but when it is still young. A spring-seeded lawn will affect chemical selection. Trimec requires a month before overseeding in order to allow for lawn establishment. Never use a pre-emergent herbicide when seeding or reseeding a lawn.

For anyone who would like still like to seed their lawn, that time has passed. Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue should be seeded in September but no later than Oct. 15. Though plantings later than Oct. 15 can be successful, the odds of success diminish as time passes. The problem with late plantings isn’t that the seed won’t come up or that young grass plants are sensitive to cold — most often, the problem is with rooting. Unless the young grass plants have a fairly extensive root system, winter freezing and thawing heaves plants out of the ground, and they dry out and die.

Regardless of when your lawn was planted, be sure the new lawn is kept watered through the fall. More mature lawns will need less frequent watering, but all should go into the winter with moist soil.

As with all chemical use, reading and following the label exactly is critical for effective results. Weed identification is also key to successful control.


Weeds cleared, but D’Andrea homeowners still not happy after weeds left on property

Homeowners on the abandoned D’Andrea Golf Course in Sparks are again frustrated after a local company cleared brush away from their homes, but left the weeds in piles on the property.

Image result for Weeds cleared, but D'Andrea homeowners still not happy after weeds left on property

Back in September, News 4-Fox 11 reported that residents were considering legal action against the City of Sparks for not enforcing the fire code.

People were concerned that the dry brush and tumbleweed that grew right up to their property lines would be perfect fuels if a brush fire were to spark in the area.

The property owner, Tygris Vendor Finance, is required by Sparks fire code to clear brush within 25 feet of fences — and it contracted Jobs Peak Weed Control to do the work, according to Sparks Fire Marshal Bob King.

On Wednesday, News 4-Fox 11 found that the weeds had been cleared the proper distance from property lines, but the debris was left in large piles up to 5 feet tall.

“It is an eyesore … I think it’s a mess. I don’t think it’s a good job.”

“I mean, I could (clear the weeds) in an afternoon,” said nearby homeowner

+69Steve Swinburn. “But the truth is, it’s a mess. And it shouldn’t have been left this way.”

Sparks Fire Code doesn’t technically require contractors to disposes of the brush, just to clear the brush at least 25 feet from fence lines.

King said over the phone that Jobs Peak Weed Control “did what they were asked to do.” King was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but released the following statement.


Agriculture tech talk reveals new innovations in automated weeding and thinning machines

Image result for Agriculture tech talk reveals new innovations in automated weeding and thinning machines

The Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture is hosting a series of Ag Tech Talks. In their most recent talk, they field demonstrations from 12 companies from all over the world present on new agriculture technology.

The event was open to the public but mostly local growers were present.

Spectators watched live demonstrations of automated thinner and weeding technology.

These high tech machines use cameras, computers, strobe lights and all sorts of tech to figure out which plants are good to keep and which ones need to be removed from the fields.

13 On Your Side spoke to many of the presenters. One from the Salinas Valley explained how this tech talk is more important than simply checking out new technologies.

“This is all about helping farmers overcome the challenge of the labor shortage so this machine here is an automated lettuce thinner and it automats the process of removing unwanted lettuce plants from the field,” Matt Watson, Director of technical development for Mantis Ag Technology said. “Traditionally that would have been done by a crew of 20 to 30 people with handheld hoes,” he added.

Today, with machines like these, it helps growers redirect their labor workers to other areas of the vegetable growing process like harvesting.