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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346864

Research Project: Sustainable Production, Profit, and Environmental Stewardship through Conservation Systems

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: The effects of mulching, tillage, and herbicides on weed control and watermelon yield

Author
item Price, Andrew
item XI, STEVE - Auburn University
item GUERTAL, ELIZABETH - Auburn University
item MCELROY, SCOTT - Auburn University
item WILLIAMS, JACOB - Auburn University

Submitted to: Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2017
Publication Date: 7/5/2017
Citation: Price, A.J., Xi, S., Guertal, E., Mcelroy, S., Williams, J. 2017. The effects of mulching, tillage, and herbicides on weed control and watermelon yield [abstract]. In: Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Currently few producers in the Southeast US have adopted conservation tillage practices in specialty crop production. The lack of conservation adoption is likely due to the added challenges in producing vegetables in cover crop residues, especially high biomass cover crop systems. The objective of this experiment was to determine if conservation tillage practices could be incorporated into watermelon production (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai). A three year watermelon experiment was established in fall 2013 at Auburn University’s Plant Breeding Unit, near Shorter, AL. Four agronomic systems were evaluated: 1) conventional tillage with no polyethylene mulch, 2) conservation tillage with a cereal rye cover crop, 3) conventional tillage with polyethylene mulch, 4) conservation tillage with a rye cover crop integrated with polyethylene mulch. Within each system, herbicide treatments included 1) halosulfuron applied at 26.3 grams ai ha-1 PRE, 2) halosulfuron applied at 26.3 grams ai ha-1 POST, 3) halosulfuron applied sequentially at 26.3 grams ai ha-1 PRE and POST, and 4) a non-treated control. Results revealed that the agronomic system was the most important factor in determining yield, likely due to adequate herbicide control in most systems. Both polyethylene mulch treatments consistently yielded higher than treatments without polyethylene, regardless of the herbicide system used. Polyethylene use resulted in yields was significantly higher than all other mulching systems in 2014 (30,661 kg ha-1) and 2015 (61,223 kg ha-1). In 2016, polyethylene and polyethylene integrated with rye were not different (36,275 kg ha-1 polyethylene and 31657 kg ha-1 polyethylene over rye, respectively), and yielded significantly higher than treatments without polyethylene (10,938 kg ha-1 conventional tillage and 5,311 kg ha-1 conservation tillage). In all years, there was no interaction between yield by herbicide system. The effect of the polyethylene was again apparent in the yield interaction between mulching system and herbicide. Increasing herbicide intensity did not increase yield, and polyethylene use was still the most important effect in increasing yield. Crabgrass weed control was difficult regardless of agronomic system or herbicide system. Utilizing sequential PRE and POST applications did not significantly affect weed control in the interaction between herbicide and mulching system for any of the weeds rated. The results of this experiment show that progress still needs to be made in developing integrated conservation systems for watermelon production. However, the results of the polyethylene integrated with rye reveal that this mulching system could have potential in conservation specialty crop production.