Partial budget analyses of five summer fallow treatments in Florida preceding a cash crop of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) were conducted. The five treatments were sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), velvet bean (Mucuna deeringiana), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor × S. bicolor var. sudanense), and tillage. Costs were estimated for each summer fallow treatment, including the cost of seed, inoculant, implementation, management, and termination. Benefits were calculated in terms of contributions to the following cash crop of summer squash in the form of biologically fixed nitrogen and reduced weed pressure. Results showed that total production costs were minimized by cover crops, even though implementation costs were higher than for tillage.
A field study was conducted in 2008 and 2009 in Citra, FL, to evaluate the effects of seeding rate and removal of apical dominance of sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) on weed suppression and seed production by sunn hemp. Three seeding rates of sunn hemp were used: a representative seed production rate of 11 kg·ha−1, an intermediate seeding rate of 28 kg·ha−1, and a cover crop seeding rate of 45 kg·ha−1. Cutting the main stem at 3, 4, or 5 weeks after planting to break apical dominance was compared with an uncut treatment. Cutting had no significant effect on shoot biomass, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) penetrating the canopy, and nondestructive leaf area index (LAI). As a result, cutting also had no effect on weed density and biomass in 2008 and very little effect in 2009. Increase in seeding rate resulted in linear decrease in PAR and increase in LAI in both years. Seeding rate had a greater effect on suppression of weed biomass than on suppression of weed density. There was a linear decline in sunn hemp branching with increased seeding rate in 2009 and, averaged across years, flower number decreased linearly with increased seeding rate. Cutting to break apical dominance induced branching but had no effect on flower number. No seed pod production occurred and we postulate that the lack of seed production may be the result of the absence of effective pollinators in fall when short-day varieties of sunn hemp flower in Florida.