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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388284

Research Project: Conservation Systems to Improve Production Efficiency, Reduce Risk, and Promote Sustainability

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Effectiveness of cover crop termination methods on no-till cantaloupe

item Kornecki, Ted
item Kichler, Corey

Submitted to: Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/21/2021
Publication Date: 1/5/2022
Citation: Kornecki, T.S., Kichler, C.M. 2022. Effectiveness of cover crop termination methods on no-till cantaloupe. Agriculture. 12(1):66.

Interpretive Summary: ARS scientists located in Auburn, AL conducted a field experiment in Northern Alabama between 2010 and 2012 related to different termination methods for three cover crops (crimson clover, cereal rye, and hairy vetch) and their effects on cantaloupe yield in a no-till system. Termination rates for all cover crops by flail mower were higher compared to roller/crimpers at one and two weeks after rolling. Three weeks after rolling, there were no differences in termination methods for rye, however for hairy vetch and clover, higher termination rates were noticed using flail mowing. Cover crop termination methods did not have any effects on cantaloupe yield. However, cover crop type had a significant effect on cantaloupe yield, fruit number, and fruit weight. Based on results, the highest yield was produced with a cereal rye cover crop and the lowest for crimson clover. However, weather effects and inadequate cover crop termination for crimson clover contributed to reduced yields in no-till cantaloupe production.

Technical Abstract: In a no-till system, there are many different methods available for terminating cover crops. Mechanical termination utilizing rolling/crimping technology is one method that injures the plant without cutting stems. Another popular and commercially available method is mowing but can cause problems with cover crop re-growth and loose residue interfering with the planter during cash crop planting. A field experiment was conducted during three growing seasons in northern Alabama to determine the effects of different cover crops and termination methods on cantaloupe yield in a no-till system. Crimson clover, cereal rye, and hairy vetch cover crops were terminated using two different roller/crimpers including a two-stage roller/crimper for four-wheel tractors and a powered roller/crimper for a two-wheel walk behind tractor. Cover crop termination rates were evaluated one, two, and three weeks after termination. Three weeks after rolling, higher termination rate was found for flail mowing (92%) compared to lower termination by 2-stage roller (86%) and powered roller/crimper (85%) with control only 49%. There were no significant differences in cantaloupe yield among rolling treatments averaging 38,666 kg ha-1 however yields were higher for cereal rye and hairy vetch cover crops (41,785 kg ha-1 and 42,000 kg ha-1) compared to crimson clover (32,213 kg ha-1).