The few available herbicides for fresh market spinach do not provide adequate weed control, and there is need for additional herbicide tools. Phenmedipham is registered for use in processing spinach but not in fresh spinach, because of potential injury and the short interval between application and spinach harvest. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the tolerance level of fresh spinach varieties to phenmedipham and evaluate the impact of light intensity on tolerance of spinach to phenmedipham. In the greenhouse, nine spinach varieties were treated with phenmedipham (0.55 kg ai ha−1). Spinach varieties exhibited a wide range of tolerance, and dry weights of treated plants ranged from 40 to 78% compared to the nontreated control. Based on the phenmedipham tolerance screen, two varieties with low (Nordic) and high (Regal) tolerance to phenmedipham were treated, then exposed to half (shaded) and full (nonshaded) sunlight. Nonshaded Nordic treated with phenmedipham had 65% lower dry weight compared to similarly treated plants grown under shade, suggesting that spinach tolerance to phenmedipham was mainly affected by light intensity. Measurements of electron transfer intensity in photosystem II also showed tolerance to phenmedipham that varied among spinach varieties and light intensity. The maximum values of electron transfer in photosystem II of Regal treated with phenmedipham were higher than those of similarly treated Nordic. In the field, phenmedipham was applied under varied light and temperature conditions. The impact of light intensity on yield of treated spinach was greater than the impact of temperature. Phenmedipham applied under high light conditions was more injurious than when applied under low light conditions. Results from this study can contribute to successful integration of phenmedipham into currently used fresh spinach weed management, which in turn can allow more efficient production of this crop.
Nomenclature: Phenmedipham; spinach, Spinacia oleracea L. SPQOL; ‘Nordic’; ‘Regal’.