Friday, April 12, 2013


Weed and pest management if always of major concern to all gardeners/farmers/ranchers.  Organic Gardeners and prohibited from using synthetic mean of destroying pests and weed so other methods are developed to reduce or control weeds and pests.

.The code governing weed and pest control is 205.206.  To review; these regulations are in the Code of federal regulations, Title 7: Agriculture, PART205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM, SubpartC—Organic Production and Handling Requirements

§ 205.206   Crop pest, weed, and disease management practice standard.

(a) The producer must use management practices to prevent crop pests, weeds, and diseases including but not limited to:
(1) Crop rotation and soil and crop nutrient management practices, as provided for in §§ 205.203 and 205.205;
(2) Sanitation measures to remove disease vectors, weed seeds, and habitat for pest organisms; and
(3) Cultural practices that enhance crop health, including selection of plant species and varieties with regard to suitability to site-specific conditions and resistance to prevalent pests, weeds, and diseases.
(b) Pest problems may be controlled through mechanical or physical methods including but not limited to:
(1) Augmentation or introduction of predators or parasites of the pest species;
(2) Development of habitat for natural enemies of pests;
(3) Nonsynthetic controls such as lures, traps, and repellents.
(c) Weed problems may be controlled through:
(1) Mulching with fully biodegradable materials;
(2) Mowing;
(3) Livestock grazing;
(4) Hand weeding and mechanical cultivation;
(5) Flame, heat, or electrical means; or
(6) Plastic or other synthetic mulches: Provided, That, they are removed from the field at the end of the growing or harvest season.
(d) Disease problems may be controlled through:
(1) Management practices which suppress the spread of disease organisms; or
(2) Application of nonsynthetic biological, botanical, or mineral inputs.
(e) When the practices provided for in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section are insufficient to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases, a biological or botanical substance or a substance included on the National List of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production may be applied to prevent, suppress, or control pests, weeds, or diseases: Provided, That, the conditions for using the substance are documented in the organic system plan.
(f) The producer must not use lumber treated with arsenate or other prohibited materials for new installations or replacement purposes in contact with soil or livestock.

Listed in the eFOTG, section IV, Conservation Practices


A part of that code is: Additional Criteria to Manage Plant Pests (Weeds, Insects, Diseases).  Design the crop sequence to break pest life cycles and/or to allow for the use of a variety of control methods. Remove susceptible crops and alternate host crops from the rotation for the period of time needed to break the life cycle of the targeted pest.

Resistant varieties, listed in appropriate university publications or other approved sources, shall be selected where there is a history of a pest problem

This simply mean that planting the same “family” of crops in the same place year after year will promote additional pests and weeds.  By creating a “new environment” through crop rotation weeds can be suppressed and controlled.

“Reducing the weed seed bank in your soil is important. Some weeds can produce as many as 100,000 seeds per plant, with the seed remaining viable for 40 years or more.
From: Weed Management for Organic Crops (.pdf file) (University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2000).

It was found that the common field mouse can consume over 40% of the weed seeds produced in a field and by provide a habitat for these natural creatures you have an natural predator working 24/7 on reducing your weed problem.

Iowa State University researchers have found that weed predation by field mice can reduce weed seed populations by 40% in just one night. Maintaining unmown, biodiverse borders around your fields provides habitat for the mice and provides you with some free weed-control service.

The first thing is to identify your weeds.  An essential part of reducing your weeds come from identification, how they grow, what they need to grow, how they propagate.  Identify your weeds and you identify ways to reduce or eliminate them

Weedsof the Northeast, by Richard Uva, Joseph Neal and Joseph DiTomaso (Cornell University Press, 1997).

Weeds of the West, by Tom Whitson (Western Society of Weed Science, 2000).

Common Weed Seedlings of the North Central States (North Central Regional Extension Publication No. 607)
Two inexpensive weed manuals relevant nationwide are Common Weeds of the United States, originally published by the USDA in 1970
 All About Weeds, by Edwin Rollin Spencer (both available from Dover Press). See the box at right for some good regional guides.

Most state extension offices give away short weed-identification guides or bulletins. Those that focus on weed seedling identification are particularly useful. You can also access weed identification tools online:

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