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Lewis W. Jett and Timothy P. Talbot

A cultural practice that can modify and conserve the soil environment is needed in sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] production. The objective of this research was to evaluate conventional and conservation tillage of sweetpotato with four cover crop species (fallow, ryegrass, rye, and wheat). The cover crops were seeded in late Oct. 1995, and the sweetpotato transplants (`Beauregard') were transplanted at two dates the following spring (May and June). Conservation tillage significantly lowered soil temperature (10 cm depth) during storage root initiation and development. Moreover, each cover crop significantly reduced weed emergence and soil erosion. The ryegrass conservation tillage treatment significantly increased marketable yield of sweetpotato in the first planting date, while rye and wheat performed equally well in the second planting date. In the second planting date, white grub (Phyllophaga ephilida Say) injury to storage roots was significantly higher in the conservation tillage treatments. However, conservation tillage seems to be a viable alternative to the conventional method of sweetpotato production.