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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEW CROPS AND MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE CROPPING EFFICIENCY IN SHORT-SEASON HIGH-STRESS ENVIRONMENTS

Location: Soil Management Research

Title: Rolled-crimped winter rye effects on hand-weeding times and fruit yield and quality of cucurbits

Authors
item Forcella, Frank
item Eklund, James
item Peterson, Dean

Submitted to: International Journal of Vegetable Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fruit and vegetables produced without pesticides are in demand by some segments of society. However, weeds often are deleterious in such crops, and managing them without herbicides is difficult. Stale seedbeds and rolled-crimped winter rye cover crops are non-chemical methods that may help manage weeds effectively, and these methods were compared over two growing seasons in terms of fruit yield, fruit quality, and hand-weeding times in west-central Minnesota (USA) for cucumber, pumpkin, and watermelon. Cumulative hand-weeding times were 33-34 hours per acre in stale seedbed systems but only 2-7 hours per acre in rolled-crimped rye mulch systems. Even without hand-weeding, cucumber yields and quality scores in rye mulch matched those in stale seedbeds that were augmented with both preemergence herbicide and hand-weeding. Pumpkin response was less consistent than cucumber, but relatively high yields and quality still were achieved in rye mulch systems. In contrast, watermelon did not fare well in rye mulch, yielding only about 25% of that in stale seedbeds with augmented weed control in a year without an early killing frost. Thus, cucumber and pumpkin appear amenable to commercial production without herbicides in rolled-crimped winter rye mulch in cold-temperate growing regions such as west-central Minnesota. These results will be of interest to commercial vegetable growers in the Upper Midwest, especially those who emphasize pesticide-free production and organic markets.

Technical Abstract: Fruit and vegetables produced without pesticides are in demand by some segments of society. However, weeds often are deleterious in such crops, and managing them without herbicides is difficult. Stale seedbeds and rolled-crimped winter rye cover crops are non-chemical methods that may help manage weeds effectively, and these methods were compared over two growing seasons in terms of fruit yield, fruit quality, and hand-weeding times in west-central Minnesota (USA) for cucumber, pumpkin, and watermelon. Cumulative hand-weeding times were 82-85 h ha-1 in stale seedbed systems but only 5-11 h ha-1 in rolled-crimped rye mulch systems. Even without hand-weeding, cucumber yields and quality scores in rye mulch matched those in stale seedbeds that were augmented with both preemergence herbicide and hand-weeding. Pumpkin response was less consistent than cucumber, but relatively high yields and quality still were achieved in rye mulch systems. In contrast, watermelon did not fare well in rye mulch, yielding only about 25% of that in stale seedbeds with augmented weed control in a year without an early killing frost. Thus, cucumber and pumpkin appear amenable to commercial production without herbicides in rolled-crimped winter rye mulch in cold-temperate growing regions such as west-central Minnesota.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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