Various tillage systems were evaluated in summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) production in southern Illinois to observe the influence of these systems on yellow and zucchini squash production during 1998, 1999, and 2000. For squash production, suppression of a cover crop such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) or winter ryegrass (Secale cereale) must be accomplished to obtain the greatest possible yields. However, once the cover crop is killed via herbicides, squash yields tend to be similar among tillage, strip tillage, and no-tillage treatments. Previous studies indicated that early yields may be reduced when using a no-tillage production system, especially if direct seeding is the method of planting and would not be beneficial to growers seeking early production. This study found that squash growers can use transplants in a no-tillage system and not compromise early yields. No differences were observed for soil bulk densities between tillage and no-tillage treatments and may partially explain why similar yields were obtained between these treatments. Effective systems for weed control must be developed in no-tillage squash production before wide acceptance will occur. Observations from this study indicated that the success of no-tillage squash production depends on the availability of effective herbicides; however, few herbicides are currently labeled for use in summer squash. Future studies need to address the problem of weed control in no-tillage squash production.
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