No-till Transplanted Watermelons in Rye Cover Crop

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1999: $5,308.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $22,086.00
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:


  • Agronomic: rye
  • Fruits: melons


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, application rate management, stubble mulching
  • Education and Training: display
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal summary:

    I want to develop a cultural method that would be an alternative to plastic mulch to obtain earlier crop maturity. I don't like to use black plastic because: 1) high cost, 2) time required to apply and remove, 3)disposal adds to the landfill, 4)extra labor required. Also, I want to eliminate fumigation under the plastic. The SEED grant I'm applying for is a variation of item no. 3 because I plant rye to trap nutrients as part of the Chesapeake Bay program; however, I use chicken manure for nitrogen and other nutrients. I believe the best use for chicken manure is crop production. I have the manure analyzed and my spreader is accurate within +100lb/A and application amounts are based on soil tests and manure analysis. This past year (1998) I tried to seeding into a rye cover crop on 15 acres and I observed excellent early growth. I had so much trouble with weeds that I could not evaluate watermelon yields, but I certainly liked the protection during a very cool spring. This experience convinced me I should switch to transplants. Cold winds in the Spring, damage early plantings and I want to use low rates of glyphosate to kill rye at 28-inch height and no-tillage transplant watermelons into the rye stubble. By utilizing a killed half-height rye crop, I think I can prevent wind damage and allow sunlight penetration to warm the soil. I want to compare watermelon yields in plowed soil to no-tillage in the same field. I will drop irrigate and leave the irrigation in place to use again next year for cantaloupe. A standard water wheel transplanter will be modified with a 3-inch waffle coulter to loosen the soil in no-tillage and the drip irrigation will be laid on the soil surface at the same time.

    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.