A Superhero without a Cape: Using the Cover Crop Sunn Hemp to Feed the Soil, Suppress Nematodes and Smother Weeds

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2005: $7,716.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Hooks Cerruti
University of Hawaii

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn
  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: eggplant
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: cover crops, double cropping, multiple cropping, organic fertilizers, strip tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Even though cover crops rarely provide direct cash returns, they’re rapidly proving their worth as off-season crops for helping to control insect pests, plant pathogens and weeds. They also reduce soil erosion, improve soil structure and nutrients and increase soil organic matter. Cerruti Hooks, a junior researcher with the University of Hawaii will use a Western SARE Professional + Producer grant to demonstrate the value of sunn hemp as a cover crop in cucumbers. Working with Khamphout Chandara of Waipahu, he’ll conduct field trials of sunn hemp to determine its impact on soil and its effectiveness at helping to manage nematodes, insects and weeds. Hooks will also quantify sunn hemp’s impact on cucumber productivity and marketable yield and encourage other growers to produce their own sunn hemp as a seed source. The strategies developed, he says, may apply to cropping systems other than cucumber.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.