Weed Control and Economic Considerations of Flame Cultivation in Pawpaw
Kirk W. Pomper*
and Sheri B. Crabtree.
Atwood Research Facility, Land Grant Program
Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY 40601.
Pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] is a new niche tree fruit crop for small farmers in the eastern United States. Flame cultivation offers an organic alternative to herbicide application for the control of grass and perennial weeds and uses a torch-directed flame to kill weeds by causing the plant cells to rupture. The objectives of this study were to determine if 1) flame cultivation with a backpack flamer would control grass/weed coverage around pawpaw trees without damage to trunks and 2) flame cultivation is economically viable. There were four replicate trees in each treatment. On July 25 and August 2 and 18, 2006, a three foot area around treatment trees was either subjected to the flaming treatments or weed eating (to a height of 2 inches). On August 25, and September 8 and 15, 2006, re-growth in plots was rated from 1 to 10, with 1 having no grass/weed coverage and 10 having total grass/weed coverage. By August 25, all flame plots had significantly less grass/weed coverage (about 2.25 rating) than control plots (7.75). On September 15, flame treatment plots had increased grass/weed coverage (about 4.75), but less coverage than control plots (9.5). Additionally, trees in either flaming treatment did not display noticeable trunk damage or wilting. Trunk damage will be evaluated again in 2007. Flame cultivation was found to be 2.5 times less expensive than straw mulch (organic) but 15 times more expensive than glyphosate (conventional) for grass/weed control.
Last updated June 18, 2007