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Organic No-Till Potato Production: Weed 'Em and Reap Part 2
Weed 'Em and Reap Part 2: Reduced tillage strategies for vegetable cropping systems [DVD]. A. Stone. 2006. Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture. Corvallis, Oregon. Available at: http://www.weedemandreap.org (verified 17 Dec 2008).
Ron Morse. Virginia Tech. Blacksburg, VA.
On October 3rd of last year, we sowed cover crops in the no-till plots and in the conventional we left the soil bare. During the winter, the cover crops grew very lush and of course, the conventional was basically just a few weeds. May 6th the soil was prepared in the conventional plot. We took my sub-surface tiller/transplanter, which is equipped to plant into very high residues. A lot of the residues were three, four, five feet high. We planted a twin row of potatoes right through the residues and we put the seed pieces about 5 inches deep in the raised bed and the transplanter virtually knocks over the majority of the residues. After about two and a half to three weeks, we will take a flail mower and keep it quite close to the ground just as the potatoes are emerging through the soil. We’ll then mow off anything that’s still growing. At that point, it basically controls all the living residue. The plants quickly emerge at that stage. In two weeks, you have two beautiful rows of potatoes, about a foot tall. Within another 3-4 weeks, you have complete canopy closure. We will harvest this crop in the next 2-3 weeks. We’ve had great luck with this system. The conventional has not proven to be the best treatment; in fact the no-till has out-yielded the conventional on an average of 17% over the last 8 or 9 years. Another beneficial effect is that no-till mulch controls Colorado Potato Beetle. We’ve seen it year after year. In these thick residues, the Colorado Potato Beetle simply do not thrive in these plots.