- Agronomic: oats, rye
- Crop Production: cover crops, tissue analysis
- Soil Management: soil analysis
Cover crops have been used in high-input agronomic and vegetable production systems to help reduce soil erosion, fungicide use, plant disease, and weed pressure. Cover crops have also been shown to increase soil organic matter, nitrogen availability, and moisture. Traditional cover crops, such as hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) and winter rye (Secale cereale), which are killed and left on the soil surface, have been used in pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) production with limited success. These traditional fall-sown cover crops can be killed by herbicide applications or mowing prior to pumpkin planting. Fusarium fruit rot (FFR) is a major soil-borne disease in pumpkin production. Current recommendations for control of FFR are crop rotations of four years or more. In small roadside farm operations where pumpkin rotations are grown continuously or rotated every one or two years, FFR can cause serious yield loss. Because control of FFR with fungicides does not work, there is a need for an alternative production system that allow for shortened pumpkin rotations. Cover crops killed and left on the soil surface may play an important role in alternative pumpkin production systems, as well as help reduce FFR.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Selection of spring-sown living, fall-sown (herbicide) killed, and spring-sown (herbicide) killed cover crop mulches for use in commercial pumpkin production.
2. Determine the effects of these cover crop mulch systems on pumpkin yield and aesthetic fruit quality.
3. Determine the effects of cover crop mulches on soil-borne fungal diseases such as fruit rot of pumpkin caused by Fusarium spp.
4. Introduce these cover crop systems to growers for use in commercial pumpkin production.