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Haley Rylander, Anusuya Rangarajan, Ryan M. Maher, Mark G. Hutton, Nicholas W. Rowley, Margaret T. McGrath and Zachary F. Sexton

Intensive tillage degrades soil structure, decreases soil organic matter, and can cause soil compaction and erosion over time. Organic vegetable farmers are often dependent on tillage to incorporate crop residue, control weeds, and prepare seedbeds. Black, impermeable, polyethylene tarps applied on the soil surface and removed at planting can help suppress weeds before planting and reduce farmers’ reliance on tillage. However, little is known about how black tarps affect planting conditions and how they can be used to advance reduced tillage production systems. This study investigated the effects of tarp use and tarp duration on the soil environment, surface cover crop residue, and weed suppression to assess the efficacy of using tarps to improve reduced- and no-till practices for organic vegetable production. Experiments were conducted at three sites in the northeastern United States (Freeville, NY; Riverhead, NY; and Monmouth, ME) for 2 years. Following the termination of an oat cover crop, tarps were applied over untilled soils and left in place for four time periods: untarped (control), 3 to 5 weeks (short), 6 to 8 weeks (mid), and 10 or more weeks (long) before two removal dates. Soil moisture and temperature, cover crop residue, soil inorganic nitrogen, weed seed survival, and weed percent cover were measured after tarp removal. Soil moisture and temperature were generally higher under tarps at the time of removal compared with untarped areas at 10% to 55% and 1 to 3 °C, respectively, but the effects were inconsistent. Tarps significantly increased soil nitrate concentrations by 2-times to 21-times with longer tarp durations, resulting in higher concentrations compared with untarped controls. Tarps did not affect the amount of soil covered by cover crop residue and had no consistent effects on weed seed survival of Amaranthus powellii S. Wats. or Chenopodium album L., two common annual weed species in the Northeast. Tarping for at least 3 weeks reduced the weed percent cover by 95% to 100% at the time of removal. Increasing tarp duration beyond 3 weeks did not affect any measures except soil nitrate concentrations. These results indicate that tarps can facilitate the use of reduced-till and no-till practices for organic vegetables by creating a nutrient-rich and moist soil environment free of emerged weeds before planting without soil disturbance.

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Husrev Mennan and Mathieu Ngouajio

modification; and weed control ( Haramoto and Gallandt, 2004 ; Mennan et al., 2006 ; Ngouajio and Mennan, 2005 ; Teasdale, 1996 ; Yenish et al., 1996 ). Many studies have reported positive effects of living cover crops on early season weed suppression and

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Alyssa H. Cho, Alan W. Hodges and Carlene A. Chase

populations could mean a decrease in labor costs associated with hand weeding. Although the importance of weed suppression by cover crops is well documented, economic data are lacking to support the monetary benefits growers might obtain by using a cover crop

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Mercy Olmstead, Timothy W. Miller, Callie S. Bolton and Carol A. Miles

( Delmas and Grant, 2010 ). Although there are many benefits to using cover crops, their primary use has been as an alternative weed suppression technique in organic and conventional vineyards worldwide ( Dastgheib and Frampton, 2000 ; Liebman and Davis

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-growth and that proper rootstock selection is critical. Summer Cover Crops for Weed Suppression Cover crops can be used as a sustainable weed management tool in vegetable production. Kruse and Nair (p. 407) investigated impacts of short-duration summer

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Michael J. Adler and Carlene A. Chase

be used during summer fallow periods to suppress weeds through resource competition ( Collins, 2004 ); however, it is likely that weed suppression by these cover crops may also be in part the result of allelopathy. Allelopathy in velvetbean has been

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Elsa Sánchez, William J. Lamont Jr and Michael D. Orzolek

have evaluated the effectiveness of newspaper mulches for weed suppression in various crops in field settings ( Calkins et al., 1996 ; Carter and Johnson, 1988 ; Grassbaugh et al., 2004 ; Monks et al., 1997 ; Munn, 1992 ; Warmund et al., 1995

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Sanjeev K. Bangarwa, Jason K. Norsworthy and Edward E. Gbur

) crop ( Boydston and Hang, 1995 ). ‘Caliente’ mustard has the capacity to produce a high amount of glucosinolates, the precursor of isothiocyanates, which makes it a promising cover crop for weed suppression ( Norsworthy et al., 2005 ). Chemical weed

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-chemical options. By choosing woodchips from trees with allelochemicals, woodchip mulches represent an environmentally friendly weed suppression method. Using container-grown dogwood and crape myrtle plants sown with large crabgrass and pigweed, Ferguson et al. (p

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Virender Kumar, Daniel C. Brainard and Robin R. Bellinder

) found that brown mustard residue was effective at reducing weeds in a subsequent snap bean crop. Yellow mustard (var. Idagold) has high glucosinolate content and is therefore thought to have good weed-suppression potential ( Haramoto and Gallandt, 2005b