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Evaluating cover crop mulches for no-till organic production of onions
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Cover crops of foxtail millet 'German Strain R' [Setaria ita/ica (L.) Beauv.] and cowpea 'Iron & Clay' [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] were grown as monocrops (MIL, COW) and mixtures and compared with a bare ground control (BG) for weed suppression and nitrogen (N) contribution when followed by organically managed no-till bulb onion (Allium cepa L.) production. Experiments in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 were each conducted on first-year transitional land. Mixtures consisted of cowpea with high, middle, and low seeding rates of millet (MIX- 70, MIX-50, MIX-30). During onion production, each cover crop treatment had three N rate subplots (0,105, and 210 kg N/ha) ofsurface-applied soybean meal [Glycine max (L.) Merrill]. Cover crop treatments COW and BG had the greatest total marketable onion yield both years. Where supplemental baled millet was applied in 2006-2007, onion mortality was over 50% in MIL and MIX and was attributed to the thickness of the millet mulch. Nitrogen rates of 105 and 210 kg N/ha increased soil mineral N (NO3 - and NH4 +) on BG plots 2 weeks after surface application of soybean meal each year, but stopped having an effect on soil mineral N by February or March. Split applications of soybean meal could be an important im\-provement in N management to better meet increased demand for N uptake during bulb initiation and growth in the spring.
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 Record created 2010-03-18, last modified 2019-07-02

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