Complete: Chemical blocking of seed set in weed beet

Timescale: 2005 - 2006
Project Lead: Unknown
Project Sponsor: Broom's Barn

Project Summary

Weed beet is an increasing problem in the UK, and current methods to keep populations in check are laborious, expensive, and often ineffective. If the production of viable seeds could be blocked in current populations of weed beet, then over time the seed bank would be gradually depleted.

Main Objectives

Certain chemicals can be applied to plants to prevent successful fertilization of the plants and seed set. Based on recent research, γ-aminobutyric (GABA) appeared to be a good candidate, and this was tested in glasshouse experiments. Since the GABA experiments were not successful, further compounds thought to affect seed set were tested in subsequent experiments.

Work Objectives

1. Test the effective concentration of applied GABA to intact, flowering plants to determine that which will block seed set.

2. Test when (relative to first pollen shed) applications of GABA are most effective.

3. As Objective 1, but by applying minidroplets of GABA solutions directly onto flowers.

4. Test the effect of applied BABA as a foliar spray or as a soil drench on seed set.

5. Test the effect of AVG (ReTain) as a foliar spray on seed set.

6. Test the effect of systemic fungicides applied prior to and around flowering on seed set.

Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

Conclusions and looking ahead Although GABA is a key factor in the fertilization process, there is no evidence that addition of exogenous GABA can disrupt internal concentration gradients sufficiently to block seed formation. Therefore, further experiments with GABA are not warranted. Alternatively, a simple fungicide application that blocks seed production in weed beet could be very beneficial, and therefore is worth further testing for confirmation and optimisation. With label approval, Opus could easily be applied to weed beet infested fields prior to or around flowering. Results suggests that BABA may be effective in blocking seed set in weed beet. Applications as a soil drench, though effective, would not be practicable on a field scale; however, results of one experiment suggest a foliar spray may be effective

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