The influence of management practices at a system level is rarely studied in weed science, even though weed communities respond to the cumulative effect of farm management systems. On-farm visits and detailed grower surveys were used to objectively classify 59 Indiana tomato fields into management systems. Fields were chosen to represent a range of practices used to grow conventional and organic tomatoes. Multivariate statistical analyses identified five distinct management systems based primarily on differences in hours spent hand-weeding, use of plastic mulch, irrigation, row spacing, and whether tomatoes were staked. Farmers generally reported many more hours of hand-weeding for organically managed fields than for fields in the other groups. This finding may reflect a trade-off between the use of herbicides and the need for hand-weeding. However, some organically managed fields were grouped with conventional fresh market fields, suggesting that management practices besides herbicide inputs can be used to reduce hand-weeding. Although some fresh market fields used to produce organic or conventional tomatoes had similar management systems, there was little overlap between fields in fresh market or processing tomato production. Further research is needed to determine underlying relationships among management systems and weed control in Indiana tomato production.
Nomenclature: Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum L.