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Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS1341

Nutsedge Life Cycle Disruptions for Effective Control

  • Meredith Melendez, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Mercer County
  • Thierry Besancon, Assistant Extension Specialist in Weed Science, Plant Biology

Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is a persistent weed commonly found in irrigated production fields, landscapes, and turf. Its sturdy leaves and angled stems are strong enough to puncture plastic and woven mulches. Reproduction through rhizomes and nutlet tubers allows for rapid reproduction and spread throughout fields. Understanding the life cycle and biology of nutsedge are key to figuring out the best options for control in your fields.

Growth Habit

Nutsedge is a grass-like perennial that has three-angled stems, long grass-like leaves, and is yellowish-green in color. Characteristics include:

Zoom in Young nutsedge plant.
Fig. 1: Young nutsedge plant.
Zoom in Yellow nutsedge nut formation.
Fig. 2: Yellow nutsedge nut formation.
Zoom in Nutsedge infestation in blueberry crop.
Fig. 3: Nutsedge infestation in blueberry crop.

Management Strategies

Control of nutsedge in production areas can be a multi-year process that involves several strategies for control. Once nutsedge is found on the farm, control measures should be identified and implemented. Organic and no-spray farming operations will need to rely on well-timed cultivation and strategic planting to compete with the weed infestation.

A. Cultivation

B. Competition

Farm Decision Tool

Yellow nutsedge management is a long-term process for farms not relying on herbicides or fumigants. Identification of existing nutsedge populations on the farm and reflection on your activities and how they impact these populations is the first step to developing a management plan. Use the charts below to identify your nutsedge populations, your current management methods, and to develop a plan of action to eradicate nutsedge from production areas.

Nutsedge Field Locations
Field Size of Population Suspected Introduction Future Prevention Plan
Example: Field 4 Patchy throughout Equipment borrowed  
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
Zoom in Figure 4.

Figure 4.

 

Field Current Strategies Timeframe
Field 4 Example: hand weeding spring
     
     
     
     
     
Field Potential Future Strategies Timeframe
Field 4 Clean equipment between fields Throughout 2022
     
     
     
     
     

References

  1. Uva, R., Neal, J., DiTomasso, J. (1997). Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press.
  2. Mohler, C., Teasdale, J., DeTommaso, A. (2021). Manage Weeds on Your Farm A Guide to Ecological Strategies. USDA Sustainable Agriculture.
  3. Mohler, C., Johnson, S. (2009). Crop Rotation on Organic Farms. USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

May 2022