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No-till snap bean performance and weed response following rye and vetch cover crops

  • Rick A. Boydston (a1) and Martin M. Williams (a2)

Fall-planted cover crops offer many benefits including weed suppressive residues in spring sown crops when controlled and left on the soil surface. However, vegetable growers have been slow to adopt direct-seeding (no-till) into cover crop residues. Field studies were conducted in 2009 and 2010 near Paterson, WA and Urbana, IL to evaluate mortality of rye and common vetch (WA) hairy vetch (IL) cover crops, weed density and biomass, and snap bean growth and yield following four cover crop control methods utilizing a roller–crimper. Rye had higher mortality than common and hairy vetch by roller-crimping, and carfentrazone applied after roller crimping only slightly increased vetch mortality. Heavy residues of rye and escaped vetch were difficult to plant into, often resulting in lower snap bean populations. Rye and hairy vetch residues suppressed final weed biomass, while common vetch reduced weed biomass 1 of 2 years. Escaped plants of both vetch species became a weed. Snap bean yields were inconsistent and often lower following cover crops compared with a fallow treatment. Being able to completely control cover crops and to plant, manage escaped weeds and mechanically harvest in the presence of heavy residues are challenges that deter vegetable growers from readily adopting these systems.

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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
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