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  • Author or Editor: William J. Lamont Jr. x
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Four cover crops {alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. `Kansas Common'), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), Austrian winter pea [Pisum sativum subsp. arvense (L.) Poir], and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L. `Tam 107')}, alone and in combination with feedlot beef manure at 5 t·ha–1 were evaluated for 2 years to determine whether sufficient N could be supplied solely by winter cover cropping and manure application to produce high-quality muskmelons (Cucumis melo L. `Magnum 45') in an intensive production system using plastic mulch and drip irrigation. Among the legumes, hairy vetch produced the most biomass (8.9 t·ha–1) and accumulated the most N (247 kg·ha–1). Winter wheat produced more biomass (9.8 t·ha–1) than any of the legumes but accumulated the least N (87 kg·ha–1). Melon yields produced using legume cover crops alone were similar to those receiving synthetic N fertilizer at 70 or 100 kg·ha–1. Melons produced on plots with cover crops combined with beef manure did not differ significantly in yield from those produced on plots with only cover crops. Legume cover crops alone, used with plastic mulch and drip irrigation, provided sufficient N for the production of high-quality muskmelons.

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High tunnels offer growers in temperate regions the ability to extend the production season. Past research has shown that these low-input structures also reduce disease and pest pressure. These characteristics make high tunnels extremely attractive to organic growers. Tomatoes (Lycopersiconesculentum Mill.) are the crop most often produced in high tunnels in Pennsylvania and many producers are interested in combining both high tunnel and organic production methods. Growers may be hesitant to transition to organic production due to conceptions concerning reduced yields specifically during the 3-year transition period to USDA certified organic status. A field trial investigating tomato production in high tunnels during the first year of organic transitioning was conducted in 2004 at The Penn State Center for Plasticulture, Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, Rock Springs, Pa. The objective of this research was to evaluate yield of the four cultivars Big Beef, Mountain Fresh, Plum Crimson, and Pink Beauty in an organic system relative to a scheduled fertilization/irrigation regime and a fertilization/irrigation regime employed using T-Systems International's Integrated Agronomic Technology. Data collected included total weight, total fruit number, weight by grade, fruit number by grade, total marketable yield, and fertilizer and water usage. Yield across cultivars ranged from 4.96 kg/plant to 6.83 kg/plant. `Pink Beauty' exhibited the lowest yields in both treatments, while `Plum Crimson' and `Mountain Fresh' exhibited the highest yields in the IAT and scheduled treatments, respectively. This experiment will be repeated in 2005 to further evaluate the performance of these cultivars.

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