Early weed infestation in vegetable crops reduces both early and total marketable yield and quality. Even if escape weeds (12 inches tall or larger) are later killed by a postemergence herbicide application, their skeletons can cause yield loss due to competition for light, temperature modification within the plant canopy, and interference with fungicide and insecticide applications. In addition, weeds can also serve as a reservoir for insect and disease organisms, especially viruses. Experiments in nonchemical weed control in cabbage were conducted at the Horticulture Research Farm, Russell E. Larson Research Center, Rock Springs, Pa., from 1993 to 1995. In addition to weedy and hoed check plots, flaming weeds at 2- to 4-leaf stage of growth with propane gas burners and planting annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) between the rows of cabbage, living mulch, were evaluated during 3 years. The cabbage cultivar Rio Verde was transplanted generally between 15 June and July during each year. Both flaming and living mulch treatments produced yield and head quality similar to the hoed check. Management and timing of ryegrass planting in relation to cabbage establishment is very critical for success with living mulch. Flaming requires straight rows of cabbage or other crop, tractor with driver that can maintain a straight line, and burners that are aligned to burn weeds and not the crop. Results will be discussed.
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