Demand for organic food products has consistently increased for more than 20 yr. The largest obstacle to organic soybean production in the southeastern United States is weed management. Current organic soybean production relies on mechanical weed control, including multiple postplant rotary hoe uses. Although postplant rotary hoe use is effective at the weed germination stage, its efficacy is severely compromised by delays due to weather. Preplant rotary hoeing is also a practice that has been utilized for weed control but the effectiveness of this practice to reduce the need for multiple postplant rotary hoeing for organic soybean production in the southeastern United States has not been investigated. Preplant rotary hoe treatments included a weekly rotary hoeing 4 wk before planting, 2 wk before planting, and none. Postplant rotary hoe treatments consisted of zero, one, two, three, and four postplant rotary hoe uses. Weed control was increased with preplant rotary hoeing at Plymouth in 2006 and 2007 but this effect disappeared with the first postplant rotary hoeing. Multiple postplant rotary hoe uses decreased soybean plant populations, decreased soybean canopy height, lowered soybean pod position, and decreased soybean yield. Plant mapping revealed that the percentage of total nodes and pods below 30 cm was increased by increased frequency of postplant rotary hoe use.
Nomenclature: Soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.