Submitted to: Integrated Pest Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 21, 2012
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Citation: Taylor, M.J., Webber III, C.L., Davis, A.R., Shrefler, J.W. 2012. Mulching methods impact on herb production and weed control in a certified organic production system. 7th InternationalIntegrated Pest Management Symposium. P010.
Weed control challenges for horticulture production are formidable; however, these challenges are even greater for those considering organic crop production. 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, have a negative impacts 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 four 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 four 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. 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.