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E.V. Herrero, J.P. Mitchell, W.T. Lanini, S.R. Temple, E.M. Miyao, R.D. Morse and E. Campiglia

No-till processing tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill.) production in four winter cover crop-derived mulches was evaluated in 1997 and 1998 in Five Points, Calif. The effectiveness of two medics, `Sava' snail medic (Medicago scutellata Mill.) (sava), and `Sephi' barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) (sephi), and two cereal/legume cover crop mixtures, triticale/`Lana' woolypod vetch (X Triticosecale Wittm./Vicia dasycarpa Ten.) (triticale/vetch) and rye/`Lana' woolypod vetch (Secale cereale L./V. dasycarpa) (rye/vetch), was compared with two conventionally tilled fallow controls (with and without herbicide) (fallow+h and fallow-h) in suppressing weeds and maintaining yields with reduced fertilizer inputs. The comparison was conducted as a split plot, with three N fertilization rates (0, 100, and 200 lb/acre; 0, 112, and 224 kg·ha-1) as main plots and cover crops and fallow controls as subplots. Tomato seedlings were transplanted 3 weeks after the cover crops had been mowed and sprayed with herbicide. There were no significant differences in weed cover in the no-till cover crop treatments relative to the fallow controls in 1997. Early season weed suppression in rye/vetch and triticale/vetch plots was similar to herbicide-treated fallow (fallow+h) in 1998, however, later in the 1998 season weed suppression was best in the fallow+h. Tissue N was highest in the fallow treatments in both 1997 and 1998. Yields were highest in the triticale/vetch and fallow and lowest in sephi treatments in 1997, but there were no differences among treatments in 1998. These results demonstrate the feasibility of no-till mulch production of furrow irrigated processing tomatoes and identify opportunities for further optimization of the system.