Fertility and Weed Management Effects on Crop Quality and Disease Variables in a Transitional-organic Processing Cabbage and Tomato System

in HortScience

The influence of organic soil amendments (unamended control, composted dairy manure, or raw dairy manure) and weed treatments [critical period (CP) or no seed threshold (NST)] on diseases, growth parameters, yield, and postharvest quality was evaluated over 3 years in a transitional organic crop rotation of tomato, cabbage, clover, and wheat. More growth, yield, and postharvest quality parameters were affected by amendment treatments in cabbage than in tomato. Significant differences in yield among amendment treatments were found in 2001 and 2003 in cabbage, with higher marketable and total yields in amended vs. control plots. Soil management effects on cabbage varied annually, though amendments were required to maximize crop growth, as head weight, size, and volume and core volume of treatment plots exceeded the control plots in 2002 and 2003. Few differences were found between weed treatments, although in 2001 cabbage heads from the NST treatment were larger than heads from the CP treatment. Similar results were found in tomato in 2003. Also, the CP treatment had a higher Area Under the Disease Progress Curve than the NST treatment in tomato in 2003. Overall, disease pressure was highest in tomato in 2001. But disease levels within years were mostly unaffected by amendment treatments. In cabbage, disease was more common in 2002 than in 2003, although head rot was more prevalent in compost-amended plots in 2003 than in manure-amended or control plots. Tomato postharvest quality parameters were similar among amendment and weed treatments within each year. Soil amendment may enhance crop yield and quality in a transitional-organic system. Also, weed management strategy can alter weed populations and perhaps disease levels.

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