Interplanted Small Grain Cover Crops in Pickling Cucumbers

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  • 1 Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325.
  • 2 Research Assistants, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325.

Pickling cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) for machine harvest were interplanted with barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), rye (Secale cereale L.), sorghum-sudan (Sorghum vulgare L.), or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Cover crops 3 to 5 (7.6 to 12.7 cm) or 6 to 10 inches (15.2 to 25.4 cm) tall were killed with sethoxydim. Cover crops seeded at ≈12 seeds/ft2 (129 seeds/m2) provided protection from wind erosion and minimal crop competition. Additional nitrogen to obtain maximum yield was required when small grain cover crops were interplanted with cucumbers. Barley emerged rapidly, grew upright, and was killed easily with sethoxydim, making it ideal for interplanting. All cover crops caused some cucumber yield reduction under adverse growing conditions.

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