- Fruits: melons
- Vegetables: cucurbits
- Crop Production: crop rotation, cover crops
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns
- Pest Management: biological control, genetic resistance, integrated pest management
- Soil Management: green manures
Most squash family crops are susceptible to Fusarium wilt, which is a serious disease world-wide that kills plants and reduces yield and quality. As the rotation length required to avoid wilt build-up is seven years, most vegetable farms growing cucurbits experience Fusarium wilt after multiple rotation cycles of less than seven years.
Project objectives from proposal:
To engage all project participants in project planning, delivery, outreach and evaluation.
To evaluate the impact of vetch cover cropping and grafted transplants on Fusarium wilt incidence, yield and quality of cucurbit crops in western Oregon.
To engage farmers in Oregon, the west and the nation with information on the utility of vetch cover cropping and grafted transplants for wilt management and yield and quality improvement of cucurbits.
Vetch cover cropping experiment:
Common or hairy vetch strips will be planted late September 2012 and 2013 on fields of known wilt potential on at least two farms. The rest of the field will be left without cover crop or planted to another cover crop. When possible, several vetch strips will be planted interspersed with the non-vetch strips to create replications in the field. Cover crop aboveground biomass will be will be measured in five 3x3 foot quadrants per strip, weighed, sub-sampled and dried. The cucurbit crop relevant to each farm will be planted into the cover cropped strips approximately one month after incorporation. The crops will be monitored bi-monthly for disease symptoms and Fusarium wilt incidence will be evaluated by counting the number of healthy and dead plants in at least five randomly selected 10-20 foot row lengths in each treatment when disease symptoms occur. Crop yield and quality will be evaluated as appropriate to the farm and crop harvest protocol.
Grafted transplant experiment:
Grafted transplants will be purchased from commercial sources. Four sets of grafted and non-grafted plants (n=10) will be planted in a randomized design appropriate to the farm production strategy. The crops will be monitored bi-monthly for disease symptoms and Fusarium wilt incidence will be evaluated by counting the number of healthy and dead plants in at least five randomly selected 10-20 foot row lengths in each treatment when disease symptoms occur. Crop yield and quality will be evaluated as appropriate to the farm and crop harvest protocol.
All project participants will meet at two to three annual winter meetings. In winter 2012-13, participants will meet to discuss Fusarium wilt life cycle and diagnostics, vetch cover cropping and grafting, on farm trial design/planting/evaluation, and how each will contribute to outreach (field trials, presentations, webinars). In each of the next two winters, they will discuss many of the same topics as well as evaluate the past year or years of the project.
On-farm field days in summers 2013-14 will provide information on wilt, vetch cover crops and grafted transplants and will include a hands-on activity evaluating disease, yield and quality. Presentations will be given by farmers and staff at the Horticultural Society meetings and at the OSU Small Farms Conference in 2014. Two webinars will be delivered in 2014 through eOrganic and available at YouTube.com/eOrganic. A website at oregonvegetables.com will include disease information and recommended control strategies. Two fact sheets will be published at oregonvegetables.com on vetch cover cropping and grafted transplants.
At the beginning and end of each presentation/field day, participants will participate in a dot exercise to assess learning and intentions to change practices. An impact survey will be sent to all participants to identify practices changed.