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Christian A. Wyenandt, Landon H. Rhodes, Mark A. Bennett, and Richard M. Riedel

septoria leaf spot ( Septoria lycopersici ). Cover crop mulches left on the soil surface may help break disease cycles and suppress the dissemination of soil-borne plant pathogens ( Creamer et al., 1996a ), and provide a more cohesive soil in which soil

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Christian A. Wyenandt, Richard M. Riedel, Landon H. Rhodes, Mark A. Bennett, and Stephen G.P. Nameth

). Using cover crop mulches in pumpkin production may play an important role in reducing soil-borne fungal diseases when proper crop rotations cannot be done. Cover crops have been used in low- or high-input agronomic and vegetable production systems to

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Christian A. Wyenandt, Landon H. Rhodes, Richard M. Riedel, and Mark A. Bennett

debris buried in the soil. Few studies have examined the effects of cover crop mulches on soilborne fungal disease in processing tomato production. Growing commercial processing tomato cultivars Ohio 7870 and Heinz 8704 in a zone-tilled mulch consisting

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Howard F. Harrison, D. Michael Jackson, Anthony P. Keinath, Paul C. Marino, and Thomas Pullaro

Fall transplanted `Commander' broccoli (Brassica oleracea Botrytis group) yield in mulches formed from the residues of killed cowpea (Vigna unquiculata), soybean (Glycine max), and velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) cover crops was compared to yield in conventional production on bare soil. Average aboveground biomass production was 6.9, 7.7, and 5.9 t·ha-1 (3.08, 3.43, and 2.63 tons/acre) and total nitrogen content of the aboveground tissues was 2.9%, 2.8%, and 2.7% of the dry weight for cowpea, soybean, and velvetbean, respectively. Within each cover crop mulch main plot, subplots received different nitrogen rates, [0, 84.1, or 168.1 kg·ha-1 (0, 75, or 150 lb/acre)]. For several nitrogen level × year comparisons, broccoli grown in mulched plots yielded higher than broccoli grown on bare soil plots. Cowpea and soybean mulches promoted broccoli growth more than velvetbean mulch. The mulches of all three species persisted through the growing season and suppressed annual weeds.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki, Ronald D. Morse, Thomas E. Devine, and John R. Teasdale

`Emperor' broccoli (Brassica oleraceae L. Botrytis Group) was grown in Fall 1995 at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), Md., and at the Kentland Agricultural Research Farm (KARF), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., Blacksburg. The objectives were to determine the effects of cover crop mulches in no-tillage production systems on marketable broccoli yield and weed suppression. The mulch treatments included cover crops of forage soybean (Glycine max L.), foxtail millet (Setaria italica L.P. Beauv), and a combination of soybean and millet. Broccoli marketable yield from all three mulch treatments was equal to that from a conventional clean cultivation system, except for the millet treatment at BARC, which produced a lower yield. All treatments maintained weeds below levels that reduced yield. Cover crop biomass ranged from 4.6 to 9.6 t·ha-1 and N content from 10 g·kg-1 for millet to 28 g·kg-1 for soybean.

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Jeff Mitchell, Charlie Summers, and Jim Stapleton

Three systems for fresh-market tomato production (transplanting into reflective mulch, transplanting into a cover crop that had been chopped and killed, and standard transplanting into fallow beds) were evaluated in two field experiments in California's San Joaquin Valley in 1999. The first study was a spring tomato planting (April) and summer (July) harvest in which a mixture of rye, triticale, and vetch was used as the cover crop mulch. The second trial consisted of a summer tomato planting (July) and fall (September) harvst in which a sorghum/sudan hybrid was used as the mulch. In both experiments, tomato plants growing over the reflective mulches accumulated significantly more biomass than did plants growing in the other production systems. These larger, more-robust plants growing over reflective mulch also produced significantly higher yield. In the summer planting, there was almost no tomato biomass accumulation in the cover crop plots due to the fact that the sorghum-sudan hybrid we chose as the cover crop turned out to be allelopathic to tomatoes when shredded and used as a mulch.

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Emily R. Vollmer, Nancy Creamer, Chris Reberg-Horton, and Greg Hoyt

weed competition than crops that produce a closed canopy. Organic onions grown in Georgia are most often produced by transplanting into plastic mulch for weed control. With in situ cover crop mulch, no-till transplanting equipment can be used to cut

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Gladis M. Zinati, Herbert H. Bryan, Waldemar Klassen, and Aref A. Abdul-Baki

In the quest to produce tomatoes without using methyl bromide, cover crops including sunnhemp, cowpea, hairy vetch, and sorghum sudan were planted on calcareous gravelly soils of southern Florida in Oct. 1998. These crops, singly or in mix, were grown on raised beds for 3 months before they were mowed down with no tillage. Sorghum sudan was plowed down and covered with plastic mulch, a conventional farming practice. In addition, uncropped plots fertilized with 6 N–2.6P–10K at 0 or 1124 kg·ha–1 were either treated with or without methyl bromide-chloropicrin and plowed down. `Sanibel' tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) were transplanted in two plant densities (one row vs. two rows on a bed) immediately after mowing. Tomatoes were fertigated with 112 N and 186 K kg·ha–1 during the growing season. Sunnhemp biomass alone or in mix with cowpea was higher than any other treatment. Biomass of sorghum sudan and hairy vetch were lowest. Canopy coverage, nutrient content of cover crops, and their effects on tomato growth, nutrient content, and yield will be discussed.

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Milton E. McGiffne Jr. and Chad Hutchinson

A 2-year field project was conducted in Thermal, Calif., on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) mulch as an alternative weed control option in pepper (Capsicum annuum) production. Treatments included a bare ground production system with hand weeding, bare ground with no weeding, a cowpea mulch production system with hand weeding, and cowpea mulch with no weeding. Cowpea was seeded in July in 76-cm beds and irrigated with a buried drip line. In September, irrigation water was turned off to dry cowpea plants. The cowpea plants then were cut at the soil-line to form mulch. Pepper plants were transplanted into mulch and fertilized through the drip line. Every 2 weeks, the number of weeds emerged and pepper plant heights were recorded. In December, fruit production, pepper plant dry weight, and weed dry weight were recorded. Fewer weeds emerged in the cowpea mulch than the conventional bare ground system. At harvest, weed populations in nonweeded cowpea mulch were reduced 80% and 90% compared to nonweeded bare ground for 1997 and 1998, respectively. Weed dry weights in nonweeded treatments were 67% and 90% less than weed dry weights in nonweeded bare ground over the same period. Pepper plants in cowpea mulch produced 202% and 156% more dry weight than on bare ground in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Pepper plants in cowpea mulch produced more fruit weight than in bare ground with similar fruit size. Cowpea mulch provided season-long weed control without herbicides while promoting plant growth and fruit production.

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Akemo Mary Christine, Mark Bennett, and Emily Regnier

In the tropics, cover crops do not have to over-winter, but can be established in the same season as the vegetable crops. To emulate this situation, winter rye `Wheeler' (Secale cereale) and field peas (Pisum sativum) in pure stands and bi-culture combinations in decreasing levels and varying ratios were established early in Spring 1996 and mown down 2 months later prior to transplanting tomato seedlings. Both cover crops grew to the flowering stage before being mown down. There were significant differences (P = 0.05) between the treatments in weed control and tomato growth. The best tomato growth and yield was in the conventionally hand-weeded control and the worst in the un-weeded control, with almost no fruit yield. The cover crop treatments with comparable performance to the best treatment were the highest rates of pure field peas, 0.25 rye + 0.75 field peas, and 0.5 rye + 0.5 field peas. The pure rye treatments suppressed weeds best, but also suppressed tomato plant growth. Weeds were suppressed for the first month in most of the mulch covers, but 2 months after mowing down most of the mulch covers were overcome by weeds. Dicotyledonous weeds appeared first and grew faster than grass weeds. This work showed that there is potential for the use of cover crops for weed control in tropical vegetable production.