Evaluation of weed suppression between Paper mulch, and straw mulch, and terminated winter cover crop on pumpkins and winter squash.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,175.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Mentzer Family Farm
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Miles Mentzer
Mentzer Family Farm


  • Vegetables: cucurbits


  • Crop Production: stubble mulching
  • Pest Management: mulches - general, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, mulching - plastic

    Proposal summary:

    Time management, weed management and soil management are all top priorities on our farm.  This is now our third year as a pumpkin patch operation and weed management is our top concern.  Every summer we spend 8 - 20 hrs a week on weed control using garden/field hoes.  This year, we grew the operation to 3 acres; unfortunately, we lost 30% of the crop to overgrown grasses and broadleaf plants.  Weed pollen caused defects on the pumpkin skin that made them unmarketable.  In my research I discovered evidence based weed management through a paper mulch that can be used to plant transplants or seeds in.  Based on my research this will be the most economically viable option.  I also plan to test using wheat straw as a mulch to suppress weeds and compare the results.  Straw mulch is not as economically viable as the paper mulch but the improvements to the organic matter of the soils may out weigh the time required to spread the wheat straw.  We will set the plot on drip irrigation as our July and August rains can be unpredictable.  I expect paper mulch to be more economical than the straw for weed suppression.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify which mulch is the most cost and time effective at weed suppression, water retention.
    2. Measure yield results between the different types  of mulch for each type of pumpkin/squash
      1. Baby Pam (pie)
      2. Snowball (white pie)
      3. Celebration (acorn squash)
      4. Crystal Star (large white)
      5.  Phat Jack (large carving)
    3. Evaluate quality and marketability of pumpkin/squash between mulch types and cover.
      1. Rye cover crop with paper mulch 
      2. Straw on top of rye cove crop
      3. Straw with paper mulch
    4. To share findings through Southwind Extension office, social media and have a field day.
    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.