Effectiveness of different cover crops for erosion, weed, pest, and disease suppression in pumpkins
We are working on a 3-part cover crop project for our pumpkin patch. One cover crop was to be planted in the fall, and two in the spring. The project aims to see if and which cover crops have an advantage in pumpkin production for weed and insect pressure. So far we have planted a third of the patch to cereal rye in mid November. This was a little later than we had hoped to plant, however weather and other factors kept us out of the field until then. The rye is up and looks great. We have a very good stand despite getting a couple inches of rain directly after planting. I purchased the seed from the local grain elevator in Harrisonville. The equipment was rented from my family. I used a 3588 International with a cultivator to prepare the soil. I used a 350 Case tractor and a John Deere drop seeder to plant. Once planted, I harrowed the seed in with a large International harrow that was also rented from my family’s farm.
RESULTS SO FAR
I learned that rye can take a lot of adverse weather and keep right on growing. I also learned that pumpkin vines and field cultivators do not get along. I had to cut all the dead vines out of the cultivator sweeps after every pass until they were all gone.
WORK PLAN FOR 2016
When spring finally arrives I plan to work the soil and plant the other two thirds of the patch to spring cover crops. I plan to rent the same equipment and purchase seed from the same locations. After the cover crops are mature I will strip till in my pumpkin plants in late June. We will be able to easily observe weed pressure and can trap insects to establish insect pressure in each of the 3 cover crops. This will give us an idea as to which crop is the best cover crop for our operation.
I have not had enough information to share as of yet. I do plan to have a field day once all the cover crops are established and pumpkins are planted.
23111 S. Jefferson Parkway
Harrisonville, Missouri 64701