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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Conservation-Tillage Cover Cropping System and Economic Analysis for Creamer Potato Production

Authors
item Carrera, Lidia - FORMER POST-DOC
item Morse, Ronald - VA POLYTECH INST.
item Hima, Beth
item Abdul Baki, Aref
item Haynes, Kathleen
item Teasdale, John

Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2004
Publication Date: August 1, 2005
Citation: Carrera, L.M., Morse, R.D., Hima, B.L., Abdul Baki, A.A., Haynes, K.G., Teasdale, J.R. 2005. A conservation-tillage cover cropping system and economic analysis for creamer potato production. American Journal of Potato Research. 82:55-64.

Interpretive Summary: Potato planting time in Maryland (early April) and Virginia (early May) is in most years rainy and soils are too wet to allow mechanical planting in conventionally tilled soils. In some years, the short planting season ends before the soils dry up to allow growers to prepare the land and plant the crop. This publication describes a conservation-tillage cover cropping system which circumvents the difficulties of planting in wet soils such that mechanical planters and other farm machinery can be used to plant the crop on time. We evaluated this method for two years both at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Farm, Maryland, and at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Agricultural Research Farm, Kent, Virginia, for producing creamer potatoes. Creamer potatoes were mechanically planted in the conservation-tillage cover cropping plots on time whereas the conventional plots in Maryland had to be planted by hand because the soil was too wet to plant mechanically. Yields in the conservation tillage, cover-cropping system were equal to or better than in the conventional system and economic returns were also favorable. Users of this new conservation-tillage, cover cropping system are potato growers, extension specialists, and consumers.

Technical Abstract: A two-year experiment was conducted at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), MD, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Kentland Agricultural Research Farm (KARF), VA, to evaluate creamer potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production in a conservation-tillage, cover cropping system. The experiments used a split-plot design in which the main-plots were cover crop treatments and the sub-plots were different selections of creamer clones. Main plot treatments included rye (Secale cereale L.), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), Austrian winter pea (Pisum sativum L.), rape (Brassica napus L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), rye/crimson clover mixture, rape/crimson clover mixture, bare soil/raised beds, and bare soil/flat beds (control). Creamer potato selections tested were B1145-2, B1491-5 and B1492-12 in 2000 and B1145-2, B1102-3, and B0811-4 in 2001. Creamer potato yields in the conservation tillage treatments were equal to or better than those in the bare soil/flat bed control with few exceptions. Economic analysis shows that net returns from some conservation tillage treatments are equal to or higher than the conventional tillage system and confirm the viability of the conservation tillage cover cropping system. Furthermore, the conservation tillage system in many cases allows timely planting using machinery in the wet soils of MD and VA during the narrow window of spring potato planting time, whereas the conventional tillage system does not offer this advantage.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014