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Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

January 22, 2013

Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables

Plasticulture production of vegetables has been widely adopted in the Northeast providing farmers with in-row weed control, soil moisture regulation and season extension. However, the bare row middles in this system require herbicide or cultivation which increase environmental impacts; impairing water quality, decreasing soil organic matter levels and increasing labor inputs. In 2012 the Cornell Vegetable Program was awarded a NESARE grant to evaluate a new use of cover crops, by sowing winter rye between plastic-mulched beds of tomatoes and onions on two cooperating farms. Both farms provided cultivation and herbicide treatments to enable us to compare weed control, yield and pest and disease impacts.

Results and Discussion
Rye as an inter-row cover crop presented challenges in this project. The primary effect observed was loss of yield, as measured by fresh weight of product. In tomatoes we lost over 8.5 pounds of marketable fruit per plant, a value of nearly $13/plant, assuming an average price of $1.50/lb, compared to the herbicide treatment. In onions the loss was over 18 lbs per 10 linear feet of row when compared to cultivation, the highest yielding treatment. Calculating onion economics is difficult as there are price differentials related to grade (bulb size) and market. However, rye treated plots yielded less than half than number of colossal bulbs (> 4" diameter) of herbicide and cultivation plots. The value of these bulbs is often $ 0.40 more than the next class, representing a loss of over $21 per 10 linear feet of bed.

What is causing this yield loss is not completely understood. Mid-summer rainfall at both farms was scarce, and thus water competition is a possibility. Nutrient competition is also possible, with nitrogen and potassium at times lower in the rye plots, although trends are not clear. Allelopathy from the rye has also been suggested, even though rye roots did not extend underneath the plastic mulch when examined. Pest pressure in the tomato crop did negatively affect yield as common armyworm and slug feeding lead to many unmarketable fruit. The armyworm infestation was a regional phenomenon at abnormally high levels in 2012.

Rye provided very good weed control at both farms. At our onion site it performed as well or better than herbicides and cultivation until harvest. At our tomato site late season weed pressure increased in the rye plots. There was an unexpected disease in the rye, leaf rust, caused by Puccinia recondita tritici at both sites. Although this disease did not impact the vegetable crop it reduced rye stands.

For more information on this project design, results, and conclusions, download the full report below.



Spring Application of Winter Rye for Weed Control in Summer Vegs - Final Report (pdf; 328KB)

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Upcoming Events

High Tech Precision Orchard Spraying

July 20, 2020

Join us the afternoon of July 20th to learn what's new in orchard precision spraying technology. We'll be joined by Dr. Jason Deveau, Dr. Heping Zhu, and Steve Booher.  After their presentations, we will open up the meeting for all three presenters to field questions and comments. 

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Announcements

U-Pick Farm Practices During Covid-19 Pandemic

U-Pick is a critical direct marketing approach for many of our farms and provides
customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light
of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices
will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. This document
provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick
operations for the 2020 season.

https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_864.pdf

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

2020 Biweekly Vegetable News Podcast- Episode 3- 5/20/20

May 20, 2020
The May 20th, 2020 edition of the Eastern New York Vegetable News covers the following topics:

Spring Spinach Pests and Diseases (1:11)
Pythium Root Rot Symptoms and Management (6:53)
Business Safety Plans for Phase 1 Re-opening in NY (11:27)
Angular Leaf Spot of Strawberry (12:56)
A Conversation with Sue Scheufele, UMass Extension, on Managing Common Brassica Pests (19:05)

Here are links to additional resources mentioned in the episode:

Spring Spinach Pests:
From Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Plant and Pest Advisory 4/2/20
Spinach Anthracnose
https://plant-pest-advisory.rutgers.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/anthracnose-spinach-2020-scaled.jpg

Spinach Downy Mildew and Leafminer
https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_869.pdf

Spinach White Rust
https://plant-pest-advisory.rutgers.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Spinach-WR-2020-scaled.jpg

Pythium Root Rot:
https://plant-pest-advisory.rutgers.edu/damping-off-identifying-and-controlling-early-season-pathogens-2-2-3/

Business Safety Plans:
New York Forward Plans https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase

CFAP Final Rule and program information https://www.farmers.gov/cfap

Angular Leaf Spot of Strawberry:
Source: Penn State Extension fact sheet

Brassica Pests:
**Although Sue discusses applying Entrust as a tray drench to seedlings prior to planting for research purposes, this is an off-label use. Entrust is currently labeled for application to soil in the field. Always consult the pesticide label prior to use. The label is the law.**

Brassica Pest Collaborative webinar recordings: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/resources/brassica-pest-collaborative
UMass research reports on management of brassica pests: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/resources-services/brassica-pest-collaborative/research-reports-on-management-of-brassica

Sue Scheufele’s contact information:
https://ag.umass.edu/people/susan-b-scheufele

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