- Author: Richard Smith
Removing weeds from the seedline is the most difficult part of weed control for many of the vegetable crops that are grown on the Central Coast. Standard cultivation removes weeds in about 80% of the bed, but leaves a band 4 inches wide around the seedline. In conventional production the seedline is treated with preemergent herbicides which can significantly reduce weed pressure; however, uncontrolled weeds are removed by hand and weeding costs vary depending on the density of weeds and the time needed to remove them. Finger weeders are a tool that can reach into the seedline and kill small weeds. They are most useful for transplanted or large seeded (e.g. corn, beans, squash) vegetables. They take advantage of the fact that the vegetable is firmly rooted and that the weeds are small and less well rooted; as such, timing is critical for the effectiveness of the finger weeders. In our trials, they were most effective when used 7-14 days after the first germination water when the weeds were in the white thread stage. However some weed species, such as malva, grew very quickly and were too tough for the finger weeder to remove them, while other weeds such as nettle, shepherd’s purse and others were highly susceptible. Finger weeders are available from the Buddingh company in Michigan (http://www.buddinghweeder.com/products.html) and three companies in Europe. Of the European companies, we have mostly worked with the Kress Company, Germany (www.kress-landtechnik.de). To date they have not had a distributor in the US, but now Washington Tractor in Quincy Washingon is importing Kress Finger weeders (http://www.washingtontractor.com/locations/store/quincy ). For more information on finger weeders view the video that we put together at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4kzebMG6rE.