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John R. Teasdale and Aref A. Abdul-Baki

Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), and rye (Secale cereale L.) and mixtures of rye with hairy vetch and/or crimson clover were compared for no-tillage production of staked, fresh-market tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) on raised beds. All cover crops were evaluated both with or without a postemergence application of metribuzin for weed control. Biomass of cover crop mixtures were higher than that of the hairy vetch monocrop. Cover crop nitrogen content varied little among legume monocrops and all mixtures but was lower in the rye monocrop. The C:N ratio of legume monocrops and all mixtures was <30 but that of the rye monocrop was >50, suggesting that nitrogen immobilization probably occurred only in the rye monocrop. Marketable fruit yield was similar in the legume monocrops and all mixtures but was lower in the rye monocrop when weeds were controlled by metribuzin. When no herbicide was applied, cover crop mixtures reduced weed emergence and biomass compared to the legume monocrops. Despite weed suppression by cover crop mixtures, tomatoes grown in the mixtures without herbicide yielded lower than the corresponding treatments with herbicide in 2 of 3 years. Chemical name used: [4-amino-6-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-3-(methylthio)-1,2,4-triazin-5(4H)-one](metribuzin).

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Mercy A. Neumann, Robert L. Wample, Julie Tarara, and Stephanie Greene

The location of the Columbia and Yakima valleys present vineyard managers in eastern Washington with significant concerns, particularly low rainfall and wind erosion. Cover crops, as part of a complete management system, can reduce the effects of wind erosion in vineyards by stabilizing soil particles and reducing runoff. Cover crops also reduce weed biomass. During research conducted at Prosser, Wash., 175 foreign and domestic species were assessed for performance as cover crops. Using a screening process, nine species were chosen for evaluation in large commercial plots. Grass species included cereal rye, crested wheatgrass, Sherman Big Blue wheatgrass, perennial rye, pubescent wheatgrass, and three fescues. Legume species included two annual clovers (Trifolium spp.) and two reseeding annual medics (Medicago spp.). Unseeded, resident vegetation served as a control. Vine and soil water statuses were monitored regularly. Initial establishment of all species was delayed because of low rainfall throughout the growing season; thus performance varied for each species. Drought-tolerant grass species had better germination and establishment than legumes, due to planting method. In-row water status and vine water potentials remained constant throughout the main portion of the growing season. A mix of crested wheatgrass, perennial rye, and pubescent wheatgrass (Canada mix) gave especially good cover without affecting vine or soil water status. Weed biomass was reduced in most cases, with legumes having least effect; cereal rye, crested wheatgrass and the Canada mix had the greatest effect. Season-long suppression was best achieved with the Canada mix because of the nature of establishment. In this study, most drought-tolerant grasses performed better than legumes; however, with proper establishment, legumes can be a beneficial part of a sustainable agriculture system.

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Melissa T. McClendon, Debra A. Inglis, Kevin E. McPhee, and Clarice J. Coyne

This research was supported by a grant from the USDA-CSREES Cool Season Food Legume Research Program. This paper is a portion of a MS thesis submitted by M.T. McClendon.

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Richard M. Hannan, Charles J. Simon, and Raymond L. Clark

The Horticulture Program at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station is responsible for the maintenance and distribution of germplasm collections of ten crop genera. These ten genera include over 28,000 accessions of 267 species of germplasm with either food or ornamental potential. The largest collection is beans (Phaseolus, > 11,500 accessions) which includes 32 species. Large collections of the cool season food legumes include Cicer, Pisum and Lens. Smaller legume collections include Lupinus, Lathyrus, Trigonella and Vicia. Although there are fewer than 3300 accessions within these four genera, there are 134 species represented. Although smaller in number of accessions, the Allium and Lactuca collections are extensively utilized for food and ornamental development programs. Associated with the curation and seed maintenance of these crops is a seed-borne virus eradication program, the development of core collections, and expansion of the evaluation data and other documentation into the Germplasm Resources Information Network.

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Herbert H. Bryan and Yuncong Li

Cover crops have become an integral part of vegetable production practices in south Florida for weed control and retaining nutrients during the heavy summer rains. A wide variety of plants are used as cover crops in south Florida. Obviously, legumes contribute more nitrogen by fixing N compared to nonlegumes such as sorghum sudan grass, which is a common cover crop in this area. We have evaluated 10 cover crops, where six were legumes in 1997. In 1998, four cover crops (sunnhemp, sorghum sudan, sesbania, and aeschynomene) were evaluated. The sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) stands out from other tested cover crops for 2 years. Sunnhemp produced 8960 to 11,400 kg dry weight/ha and fixed up to 285 kg N/ha. The evaluation of effects of sunnhemp and other cover crops on the following tomato growth and yield are still in progress and will be discussed.

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Mari Marutani

Sunn-hemp, Crotalaria juncea L. cv. Tropic Sun was developed in Hawaii in 1982 and recently introduced to the island of Guam by USDA Soil Conservation Service as a potential green manure crop. An evaluation of various legumes at three different soil regimes revealed that sunn-hemp produced greater biomass than other plants. In the study of the effects of sunn-hemp in subsequent vegetable production, slightly greater canopy was observed for potato, Solanum tuberosum cv. Kennebec, with green manuring with sunn-hemp than without. Yield of head cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capita cv. KK Cross, was higher with green manuring (1085.5g/head) than without (725.4g/plant). Competition between indigenous rhizobia and introduced inoculant seems to exist at some locations. Major constraints in using sunn-hemp as green manure on the island are its limited seed sources and requirements of additional labor. Education and promotion of using this legume in a long term soil-improving system is needed.

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M.L. Baker, D.R. Earhart, and V.A. Haby

When poultry litter (PL) is applied to meet the nitrogen (N) needed for plant growth, phosphorus (P) can accumulate, leading to non-point source pollution of surface water. This study was conducted at Overton, Texas on a Bowie fine sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic, Plinthic Paleudults) to investigate the use of warm- and cool-season forage legumes in rotational cropping systems to remove excess P. Cropping systems were: spring legume—fall vegetable (SL-FV), spring vegetable—fall legume (SV-FL), and spring vegetable-fall vegetable (SV-FV). Warm- and cool-season legumes were Iron and Clay cowpea and crimson clover, respectively. Poultry litter rates were 0, 1X, 2X, 4X, and commercial blend (CB) as subplots. Fertility treatments were applied to vegetable plots only. The crop, IX PL and CB rate for each season were: spring 1995—watermelon, 2.2 t·ha-1, 48.8N—12.2P—28K kg·ha-1; fall 1995—turnip, 8.3 t·ha-1, 89.6N—24.4P—28K kg·ha-1; spring 1996—tomato, 6.7 t·ha-1, 100.9N—17.1P—78.5K kg·ha-1. Soil P increased at all depths sampled (0-15, 15-30, and 30-45 cm) as PL rate increased. Residual P from CB was equal to the control. Through spring 1996, soil P concentration in the surface 0-15 cm was increased by all systems. System SV-FL reduced P accumulation by 35.6 mg·kg-1 when compared to SL-FV and 44.7 mg·kg-1 when compared to SV-FV. Residual P continued to increase as PL rate increased. Rate of increase was reduced by a system of SV-FL.

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Nancy G. Creamer and Keith R. Baldwin

Summer cover crops can produce biomass, contribute nitrogen to cropping systems, increase soil organic matter, and suppress weeds. Through fixation of atmospheric N2 and uptake of soil residual N, they also contribute to the N requirement of subsequent vegetable crops. Six legumes {cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.), sesbania (Sesbania exaltata L.), soybean (Glycine max L.), hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsutum L.), velvetbean [Mucuna deeringiana (Bort.) Merr.], and lablab (Lablab purpureus L.)}; two nonlegume broadleaved species [buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) and sesame (Sesamum indicum L.)]; and five grasses {sorghum-sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L) Moench × S. sudanense (P) Stapf.], sudangrass [S. sudanense (P) Stapf.], Japanese millet [Echinochloa frumentacea (Roxb.) Link], pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L). R. Br.], and German foxtail millet [Setaria italica (L.) Beauv.)]}, were planted in raised beds alone or in mixtures in 1995 at Plymouth, and in 1996 at Goldsboro, N.C. Biomass production for the legumes ranged from 1420 (velvetbean) to 4807 kg·ha-1 (sesbania). Low velvetbean biomass was attributed to poor germination in this study. Nitrogen in the aboveground biomass for the legumes ranged from 32 (velvetbean) to 97 kg·ha-1 (sesbania). All of the legumes except velvetbean were competitive with weeds. Lablab did not suppress weeds as well as did cover crops producing higher biomass. Aboveground biomass for grasses varied from 3918 (Japanese millet) to 8792 kg·ha-1 (sorghum-sudangrass). While N for the grasses ranged from 39 (Japanese millet) to 88 kg·ha-1 (sorghum-sudangrass), the C: N ratios were very high. Additional N would be needed for fall-planted vegetable crops to overcome immobilization of N. All of the grass cover crops reduced weeds as relative to the weedy control plot. Species that performed well together as a mixture at both sites included Japanese millet/soybean and sorghum-sudangrass/cowpea.

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D.R. Earhart, M.L. Baker, and V.A. Haby

A factored experiment was established at the Texas A&M Univ. Research and Extension Center at Overton in Spring 1995. The objective was to investigate the use of warm- and cool-season legume cover crops in vegetable cropping systems for reducing phosphorus (P) accumulation from poultry litter (PL) and commercial blend (CB) fertilizer. PL rates were based on soil test nitrogen (N) requirement of the vegetable crop and percent N content of the litter. This was considered the 1X rate. Fertility treatments were applied to the vegetable crop only. PL was applied at O, 1X, 2X and 4X rates. CB was applied at recommended rates for N, P, and K. The vegetable crops were: Spring 1995—watermelon; Fall 1995—turnip; Spring 1996—tomato; Fall 1996—collard; Spring 1997—squash. The legumes were: spring—Iron and Clay cowpea; fall—crimson clover. Dry-matter yield of cowpeas and clover was not affected by fertility treatment in any of the years studied to date (Spring 1995, 1996, 1997). Plant concentration of P for both cover crops was increased all 3 years as rate increased. PL applied at the 1X rate maintained P levels in the surface 0—15 cm of soil at 60 mg·kg-1 over the five-season study period. CB maintained levels of P equal to the control. A cropping system of spring vegetable—fall legume greatly reduced P accumulation. A reduction in P was also noted from a system of fall vegetable—spring legume, but not as pronounced. The greatest accumulation was with a system of spring vegetable—fall vegetable.

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Wayne F. Whitehead and Bharat P. Singh

Our objective was to determine the effect of cover crops on the gas exchange activities of a succeeding crop of tomato. No commercial N fertilizer was applied, and the mineralization of cover crops provided the sole source of supplemental N for the tomato crop. Cover crops were planted in randomized complete blocks on 8 Sept. 1994, with treatments consisting of control (fallow), rye, hairy vetch, and crimson clover. A tomato cultivar Mountain Pride was transplanted in the field on 18 Apr. 1995. The gas exchange rate of tomato was measured at flowering (6 June), fruiting (13 July), and senescence (10 Aug.) with infrared gas analyzer using a steady-state gas exchange system. The highest stomatal conductance (gs) and CO2 exchange rate (CER) was obtained during flowering and fruiting, respectively. The tomato plant following a legume cover crop conducted water vapor at a significantly higher rate than those preceded by rye or fallow. The CER of tomato planted behind a legume cover crop was also higher compared to those following rye or fallow. The gs ranged from 384 to 1146 mmol·m–2·s–1, and CER varied from 5.7 to 17.8 mol·m–2·s–1 depending on the preceding cover crop and the stage of growth of the tomato plant. From the results of this study, it was apparent that, while legume cover crops increased the gas exchange activities of the ensuing tomato crop, nonlegumes had no such effect.