(Note to reader: attached is the complete final report for FNE01-388)
The intent of this project was to investigate alternative organic production techniques for vine crops; (focusing on pumpkins) utilizing in-row plastic mulch and a variety of between row treatments for comparison.
In conclusion, I would say it appears this model has some merit. The main hurdle I have faced is keeping ahead of the weeds while maintaining a limited time commitment. The plastic mulch achieved the result of allowing the plants to become established with limited intervention, and without being too costly to prove economically impractical. The addition of the organic matter from the smother/cover crop is certainly a benefit to the long-term structure of the soil. Also, the fact that a season extending or supplemental crop can be produced with limited inputs could prove valuable to many direct and/or roadside marketers.