Paper Mulch: Weed 'Em and Reap Part 1

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Weed 'Em and Reap Part 1: Tools for Non-Chemical Weed Management in Vegetable Cropping Systems [DVD]. A. Stone. 2006. Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture. Corvallis, Oregon. Available at: (verified 17 Dec 2008).


Carol Miles, Martin Nicholson, and Lydia Garth, Washington State University. Vancouver, WA

Audio Text

Carol Miles: The objective of this trial is to look at paper mulch as a replacement for the plastic mulch for weed control in in-row cropping systems.

Lydia Garth: These six different mulches were assessed in two different ways. First of all was the longevity or the aging of the actual mulch that was done on a one-to-five rating scale. Most of these papers, as well as the plastic, are holding up very well.

Carol Miles: In work that was done down in Florida, in their systems, the paper lasts a good, forty-five days and sixty days with good management. We planted this trial one-month ago and basically we see no differences in terms of the different treatments that we’ve put on. We’ve put on different oils to try to preserve the paper and we didn’t put on any oil. There’s no difference at all in terms of longevity out here. There’s no difference with the drip-tape or with the overhead. So really we’re thinking that right now, this is looking like a pretty good viable option here as a replacement for plastic. Our major objective is weed control: weed control in the bed and in the row. It looks to be doing a pretty good job.

Martin Nicholson: It’s pretty much a standard mulch layer. The only change we really noticed we had to make was that the row widths are fifty-two inches versus, I think a lot of the plastic was forty-eight so we had to widen everything out, but that was easily within the adjustments of the machine. One thing we noticed that was a bit of a challenge with the paper versus plastic was you have to drive really straight. The plastic seems to be quite forgiving if you get off-line and you straighten yourself up again, the paper isn’t. As soon as you get off-line, if you turn the tractor a little bit and straighten up, it just rips the paper, there’s enough tension in there.

Carol Miles: If you weed when the paper is wet, it does tend to rip. If you weed when the paper is dry, it doesn’t appear to rip. There’s a management recommendation there, which is: don’t touch the wet paper.