Papaya Herbicide Problems: Treating Symptoms Of Papaya Herbicide Injury

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Papaya seedlings are slow to establish and their growth can be quickly outpaced by weeds, so most growers find that some type of weed control is imperative. Unfortunately, papayas are shallow-rooted and papaya damage from herbicides is always a risk. Read on to learn more.

Papaya and Weed Killers

Signs of payapa damage from herbicides may differ depending on stage of growth, plant size, temperature, relative humidity, soil moisture and type of herbicide used. Papaya herbicide injury may affect blooms, leaves, stems and fruit.

Common symptoms of papaya herbicide injury include the following:

  • Cupping or curling of lower leaves
  • Mottled and discolored leaves
  • Stem dieback
  • Poor fruit quality
  • Spots or freckles on fruit, sometimes with water-soaked appearance
  • Reduced yield

Treating Papaya Herbicide Problems

There may not be a lot you can do if your papaya tree is severely injured by herbicides, and in some cases, damage can show up for years to come.

The good news is that extra care for next few months may pull a lightly damaged tree out of the danger zone. Fertilize in spring and continue to keep weeds in check. Water properly, especially during dry conditions. Keep a close watch for insects and disease.

Preventing papaya damage from herbicides includes thoroughly reading and following the directions on product labels. Never apply herbicides when the wind is blowing toward papaya trees. Ideally, herbicides should be applied when a slight breeze is blowing in the opposite direction.

Follow label recommendations regarding temperature to minimize risk of vaporization. Clean the tank and sprayer thoroughly between uses. The label will have recommendations on the best ways of achieving this.

Use application techniques that minimize fine droplets or mist. For example, use a wide-angle nozzle with proper tips. Apply herbicides at lower pressure with the nozzle close to the ground.

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Homemade Weed Killers That Really Work

Few things give a landscape a more untended look than masses of weeds. One way to deal with pesky weeds is to kill them with store-bought, chemical herbicides. But this approach doesn't cut it with gardeners striving for landscapes that are not only weed-free, but also safe for people, pets, and wildlife. For them, mere weed control isn't as important as achieving weed control without chemicals. In fact, such gardeners sometimes choose to tolerate weeds such as wild violets, rather than fighting them.

However, if you're the type of gardener who's "green" but who loves well-manicured landscapes and perfect lawns, too, you must look for smart ways to control weeds. Luckily, there are some homemade weed killers you can use. They are safe, and they really work. Moreover, you can supplement them with other strategies that are effective against weeds, yet won't harm the environment.

Homemade weed killers generally work best around a garden (for example, the area along a garden fence, where weeds sprout up) rather than on lawns because they kill whatever they come into contact with (such weed killers are said to be "non-selective"). So if you spray them on a lawn weed, and if some of the spray misses the weed and gets onto your grass, the grass will die.

Harvest, Ripening, and Storage

Papaya fruit may be harvested green for use as a vegetable and ripe when full yellow to orange color develops on the peel. Generally, fruit may be picked when yellow color covers 1/10 th to 1/3 rd of the surface peel, however, greater color development of the fruit while on the tree increases fruit sugar content. After picking, fruit should be placed at room temperature to fully ripen before being stored in the refrigerator. Ripe fruit will keep up to 4 to 7 days.

Uses and Nutritional Value

Papaya fruit are commonly used as a ripe fresh fruit alone, in fruit salads, drinks, and desserts. Non-ripe fruit may be used as a vegetable or used in green salads. Fruit is also dried, candied, and made into pastes, jellies, and jams. Papaya fruit is low in calories and high in potassium and vitamin A (Table 3).


Cultural practices for fruiting papaya plants in the home landscape.

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