The artichoke (Cynara scolimus L.) is a perennial plant and today is mainly cultivated for the production of the edible flower buds. Italy is the largest producer as well as the largest consumer of artichokes. Nearly half of the world artichokes are grown in Italy. Artichoke, that is very strong crop, has in weed control one of the greater problems especially in organic farming. Non chemical intra-row weed control is carried out with hand hoeing that is a very long and hard work. The present study aimed to investigate the possibility to change hand hoeing with flaming for intra-row weed control. The experiments compared two different intra row weed control techniques during the cultivation cycle, hand hoeing and flaming (performed with a knapsack flamer), and an unweeded control. For any treatments were measured or calculated operative time, working capacity, and LPG consumption per hour and hectare, weed density, artichoke yield. In the two years of tests intra-row weed control was performed with one treatment of hand hoeing and two of flaming. Flaming permitted a work saving on average of about 65 h/ha with a LPG consumption of 107.5 kg/ha. Artichoke yield (bud/ha) was not different for the two different intra-row weed control techniques and lower for the unweeded control. At the end of cultivation cycle the time to remove all the weed (standard cultural practices) was not different between the two technique and higher for the control. These first results indicate that flaming is efficient for intra-row weed control in artichoke.
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