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  • Author or Editor: Robin R. Bellinder x
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Hairy galinsoga [Galinsoga ciliata (Raf.) Blake] has become a troublesome weed in vegetable crops. Field studies were conducted in 2006 and 2007 in central New York to determine the effects of: 1) spring-sown cover crops on hairy galinsoga growth and seed production during cover crop growth grown before subsequent short duration vegetable crops; and 2) cover crop residues on establishment of hairy galinsoga and four short-duration vegetable crops planted after cover crop incorporation. The cover crops [buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench), brown mustard (Brassica juncea L.), yellow mustard (Sinapis alba L.), and oats (Avena sativa L.)] were planted in May and incorporated in early July. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and Swiss chard [Beta vulgaris var. cicla (L.) K. Koch] were transplanted and pea (Pisum sativum L.) and snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) were sown directly into freshly incorporated residues. Aboveground dry biomass produced by the cover crops was 4.2, 6.4, 6.8, and 9.7 mg·ha−1 for buckwheat, brown mustard, yellow mustard, and oats, respectively. Cover crops alone reduced the dry weight (90% to 99%) and seed production of hairy galinsoga (98%) during the cover crop-growing season compared with weedy controls. In 2006, only yellow mustard residue suppressed hairy galinsoga emergence (53%). However, in 2007, all cover crop residues reduced hairy galinsoga emergence (38% to 62%) and biomass production (25% to 60%) compared with bare soil, with yellow mustard providing the greatest suppression. Cover crop residues did not affect snap bean emergence, but reduced pea emergence 25% to 75%. All vegetable crops were suppressed by all cover crop residues with crops ranked as: pea > Swiss chard ≥ lettuce > snap bean in terms of sensitivity. The C:N ratios were 8.5, 18.3, 22.9, and 24.8 for buckwheat, brown mustard, yellow mustard, and oat residues, respectively. Decomposition rate and nitrogen release of brown mustard and buckwheat residues was rapid; it was slow for oats and yellow mustard residues. Spring-sown cover crops can contribute to weed management by reducing seed production, emergence, and growth of hairy galinsoga in subsequent crops, but crop emergence and growth may be compromised. Yellow mustard and buckwheat sown before late-planted snap beans deserve further testing as part of an integrated strategy for managing weeds while building soil health.

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Reports concerning the success of no-till (NT) production of vegetable crops are mixed, with results influenced by soil type, precipitation, mulching, and weed control. Similar yields have been obtained with no-tillage (NT) and conventional tillage (CT) of sweet corn (4), tomatoes (3), potatoes (2), and cabbage (1). Conversely, yield suppression in NT has been reported for cucumbers (3), cabbage (5), and tomatoes and bell peppers (4). Beste (3) reported that lima bean yields were similar in both tillage systems. Snap beans have been grown successfully in NT systems, and yields have been equivalent to or greater than CT snap beans (6-8).

Open Access

Vegetable producers are increasingly interested in adopting conservation tillage practices to maintain or enhance productivity and soil health, but reducing tillage may reduce yields in cool climates. Strategies to transition from full-width tillage to zone tillage systems for cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Group capitata) were tested with the goals of overcoming soil temperature and compaction limitations and producing crop yield and quality equivalent to conventionally tilled. Designed to achieve differential soil temperature and compaction levels, the treatments were factorial combinations of two widths of zone tillage (15 and 30 cm) and two depths of zone tillage (10 and 30 cm) plus a conventional rototilled treatment (full width and 20-cm depth) as a control. To assess the effect of treatments in the transitional year to reduced tillage, the experiment was conducted in 2003 and 2004 at different fields that were previously conventionally tilled. Increasing tillage width from 15 cm to 30 cm increased soil temperature by 1 °C in both years but had a limited effect on cabbage growth and no effect on yield. Tillage width and soil temperature may have greater impact on an earlier planting. By contrast, increasing tillage depth from 10 cm to 30 cm reduced soil penetrometer resistance by up to 1 MPa, increased plant growth by 28%, and increased yield by 22%. Growth and yield in 30-cm depth treatments were similar to conventional tillage, indicating the undisturbed, between-row areas in zone tillage treatments did not restrict growth. Zone tillage did not affect cabbage maturity or quality. Tillage depth was more important to the success of this system than tillage width; vertical tillage to 30-cm depth left between 60% and 80% of the soil surface area undisturbed and can be an effective transition to conservation tillage for transplanted cabbage.

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If benefits of conservation tillage can be quantified even in the transition year from conventional tillage, growers will more likely integrate practices that maintain or enhance soil quality and productivity. The management of surface residue is an important component of conservation tillage, especially in cool, rainy climates where vegetable growth and yield reductions have been observed when heavy residue is present. Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), grown until flowering, was killed with glyphosate and was then cut and removed (stubble treatment) or rolled or chopped to form a surface mulch (mulched treatment) before transplanting cabbage. Rolled mulch increased soil wet aggregate stability by 4% and reduced soil penetrometer resistance by up to 0.5 MPa compared with rye stubble treatments in 2003. In 2004, frequent rains saturated soils and may have accelerated the decomposition of chopped mulch, minimizing treatment effects. Rolled mulch reduced soil temperatures by up to 2 °C in 2003, but June transplanting of cabbage probably minimized the impact of soil temperature. Mulched treatments did not delay cabbage maturity or affect head quality characteristics such as color or uniformity. Although rolled mulch reduced cabbage growth by as much as 30% and yield by 21% in 2003, chopped mulch did not affect growth or yield in 2004. Yield reduction may be overcome by killing the rye relatively early in the spring or retaining only the surface stubble; these strategies may maintain or measurably improve soil quality even in the transition year to conservation tillage.

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