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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ORGANIC AND REDUCED INPUT FRESH MARKET SPECIALTY CROP PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS Title: Impact of mulching methods on herb production and weed control in a certified organic production system

Authors
item Webber, Charles
item Davis, Angela
item Shrefler, James -

Submitted to: Horticulture Industries Show
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2011
Publication Date: March 28, 2011
Citation: Webber III, C.L., Davis, A.R., Shrefler, J.W. 2011. Impact of mulching methods on herb production and weed control in a certified organic production system. In: Proceedings of Horticultural Industry Show, January 14-15, 2011, Fort Smith, Arkansas. p. 110-112.

Interpretive Summary: Mulches have the potential to conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, and minimize weed growth. Although plastic mulch has advantages in weed control, initial expense and disposal add to the overall production costs. Research was conducted at Lane, Oklahoma on certified organic land at the USDA/OSU Wes Watkins research center to compare the impact of mulching types on weed control and herb yields. The 4 mulching treatments included black plastic, hay mulch (wheat and cereal rye), hay mulch over newsprint, and bare soil (no mulch). Four herbs, basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), sage (Salvia officinalis L.), garlic chives (Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng.), and arugula (Eruca vesicaria (L.) Cav. ssp. sativa (Mill.) Thell.), were transplanted into the four mulching treatments in 4 replications. Weed control efficacy of the mulching treatments were determined by recording the time required to maintain the plots weed-free by hoeing and hand-weeding. Herb yields were determined for each mulching treatment. Arugula and garlic chives produced the best yields on black plastic compared to basil and sage which grew best on bare ground (no mulch). The black plastic and bare soil required the most time to handweed compared to the hay and hay/newsprint mulches, although the weeding times for all mulches were minimal due to the low weed pressure. The research demonstrated the importance of selecting the appropriate mulch for the specific herb and the potential benefits of natural and biodegradable mulches.

Technical Abstract: Reducing weed competition is a critical step in organic cropping systems. Use of black plastic as a weed barrier is widely used and effective. The expense associated with black plastic as well as the ecological impact of disposal has a negative impact with its use. Research was conducted at Lane, Oklahoma on certified organic land at the USDA/OSU Wes Watkins research center to compare the impact of mulching types on weed control and herb yields. The 4 mulching treatments included black plastic, hay mulch (wheat and cereal rye), hay mulch over newsprint, and bare soil (no mulch). Four herbs, basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), sage (Salvia officinalis L.), garlic chives (Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng.), and arugula (Eruca vesicaria (L.) Cav. ssp. sativa (Mill.) Thell.), were transplanted into the four mulching treatments in 4 replications. Weed control efficacy of the mulching treatments were determined by recording the time required to maintain the plots weed-free by hoeing and hand-weeding. Herb yields were determined for each mulching treatment. Arugula and garlic chives produced the best yields on the black plastic. Basil and sage produced their highest yields when grown without a mulch (bare ground). The black plastic and bare soil treatments required the most time to handweed, compared to the hay and hay/newsprint mulches which required the least. The research demonstrated the importance of selecting the appropriate mulch for the specific herb and the potential benefits of natural and biodegradable mulches.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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