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  • Author or Editor: Laura K. Hunsberger x
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Vegetable soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] (edamame) are growing in popularity as a niche crop grown by traditional grain producers. Edamame were grown in an organically transitional system from 2004–2005 at the University of Maryland Lower Eastern Shore Research and Education Center in Salisbury, Md. Four weed suppressing treatments were used in order to determine if this crop would grow well in an organic production system. Five varieties; BeSweet 2020S, BeSweet 292, 414F, Dixie (2004 only), and Mooncake (2005 only) were grown in a RCB design with 4 reps. The weed suppression systems included; a ground cover of commercially purchased compost in a 4-inch layer, a ground cover of straw in a 4-inch layer, New Zealand Clover applied as a living mulch at a rate of 35#/A and an untreated control. Soybeans grown in both commercial compost and clover had significantly higher yields (6,606 and 5,578 lb/acre, respectively) than those grown in the untreated control (4,283 lb/acre), but were not different from those grown in straw (5,578 lb/acre). Weed suppression system also had an affect on the pod number per plant. On average, compost, clover and straw had 49% more pods per plant than the control. Over both years, BeSweet 2020S, BeSweet 292, 414F, and Dixie all had significantly higher yields than Mooncake (5,003, 5,613, 5,522, 7,138 and 1,875 lb/acre, respectively). Variety also had an effect on pod number per plant, with BeSweet 2020S having a 37% higher pod number that BeSweet 292. It is feasible that vegetable soybeans can be grown organically or in a low input system. This value added crop could fill an important niche for both market growers and small traditional grain producers growers.

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Uniformity of sand deposition on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) farms was examined to evaluate the potential use of two sanding methods to suppress swamp dodder (Cuscuta gronovii) seedling emergence by seed burial. During a 2-year study, 24 farms were evaluated with sand applied by either water barge or directly on ice. To measure the depth of sand deposited on the surface, soil cores were taken every 5 m in a grid pattern on a randomly selected portion of a commercial Massachusetts cranberry farm. Both application methods delivered nonuniform depositions of sand with the majority of the samples measuring less than the target depth. Surface diagrams depicting sand depths indicated no particular patterns of error or deposition that could be advantageously adjusted by the grower at the time of application. Mean actual: target depth ratios were 63% and 66% for barge and ice sanding, respectively (100% indicating actual equaled target). In the best scenario (two farms), 47% of the sanded area received less than the target amount; 11 farms had at least 90% of actual sand depths below the target depth. For farmers targeting 25-mm sand depths (depth expected to suppress dodder germination), the mean actual: target depth ratio was 58%, indicating half of the actual sand depths measured less than 15 mm. Compaction of the sand layer due to the elapsed time period (6 weeks or more) between sand application and measurement may have contributed to the large number of samples that were lower than the target depth. Even so, the irregularity of deposition patterns and the large proportion of sand depths that were less than 25 mm indicated adequate suppression of dodder seedling emergence would be unlikely with either sanding method.

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Over a 2-year period, 11 cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) farms in southeastern Massachusetts were selected to evaluate mechanical removal of swamp dodder (Cuscuta gronovii) with a conventional hand-held bamboo rake. This technique consisted of breaking and removing large strands of the parasite that connected host plants; embedded and encircled portions of the parasite were not removed. Differences in dodder biomass, cranberry yield, and berry weight were determined in plots that received zero, one, or two weed-removal events. Removing dodder one time per season reduced percentage of weed cover by more than 74% in both years. Impacts on dodder fresh and dry weight were not as discernible. Removal initially decreased dodder biomass, which remained 20% to 40% lower than the baseline values, but removal treatments did not differ statistically from the control. No additional benefits were obtained by removing the weed cover more than once. Biomass per berry was not affected by mechanical weed removal and fruit of marketable size were produced in the treated area. Substantial yield loss was largely attributable to the dodder infestations, but multiple removals may eventually reduce yield to levels below those associated with infestations alone.

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