Use of Cover Crop Mulches in a No-till Furrow-irrigated Processing Tomato Production System

  1. W.T. Lanini
  1. Department of Vegetable Crops and Weed Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (mitchell{at}uckac.edu).
  1. S.R. Temple
  1. Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  1. E.M. Miyao
  1. University of California Cooperative Extension, Woodland, CA 95695.
  1. R.D. Morse
  1. Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
  1. E. Campiglia
  1. Dipartimento di Produzione Vegetale, Universita della Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, Viterbo, IT.

Summary

No-till processing tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill.) production in four winter cover crop-derived mulches was evaluated in 1997 and 1998 in Five Points, Calif. The effectiveness of two medics, `Sava' snail medic (Medicago scutellata Mill.) (sava), and `Sephi' barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) (sephi), and two cereal/legume cover crop mixtures, triticale/`Lana' woolypod vetch (X Triticosecale Wittm./Vicia dasycarpa Ten.) (triticale/vetch) and rye/`Lana' woolypod vetch (Secale cereale L./V. dasycarpa) (rye/vetch), was compared with two conventionally tilled fallow controls (with and without herbicide) (fallow+h and fallow-h) in suppressing weeds and maintaining yields with reduced fertilizer inputs. The comparison was conducted as a split plot, with three N fertilization rates (0, 100, and 200 lb/acre; 0, 112, and 224 kg·ha-1) as main plots and cover crops and fallow controls as subplots. Tomato seedlings were transplanted 3 weeks after the cover crops had been mowed and sprayed with herbicide. There were no significant differences in weed cover in the no-till cover crop treatments relative to the fallow controls in 1997. Early season weed suppression in rye/vetch and triticale/vetch plots was similar to herbicide-treated fallow (fallow+h) in 1998, however, later in the 1998 season weed suppression was best in the fallow+h. Tissue N was highest in the fallow treatments in both 1997 and 1998. Yields were highest in the triticale/vetch and fallow and lowest in sephi treatments in 1997, but there were no differences among treatments in 1998. These results demonstrate the feasibility of no-till mulch production of furrow irrigated processing tomatoes and identify opportunities for further optimization of the system.

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