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LSP Report LS7009

A Cover Cropping Strategy for
First Early Potato Production


Researcher: Dr. A.W. McKeown, Horticultural Experiment Station, Principal Researcher

Funding: $50,441


  1. To evaluate the effects of the following on emergence, yield and diseases of early potatoes:
    1. several broadleaf and grass species as cover crops
    2. early July and September sowings of cover crops
    3. a single fall disk to partially turn under cover crop vs. all soil preparation in spring.

Expected Benefits

  1. Answer some of the questions on soil management for early potato production.
  2. Identify potential problems with alleopathic effects of cover crops to save growers considerable dollars.
  3. Identify potential disease problems or benefits due to cover cropping practices.
  4. Better cover cropping practices will lead to sustainable production and less environmental damage from soil management practices for early potatoes in Ontario.

Summary of Research Results

In southern Ontario, early potatoes (Solanum tubersom L.) are harvested commencing late June. Consequently, soil erosion is a risk if fields are summer-fallowed until traditional fall plantings of cover or cereal rotation crops. Commonly used cereals, rye (Secale cereale L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and oats (Avena sativa L.) were compared to bare soil controls in July and August plantings. Oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus L. var oleiformis), spring canola (Brassica napus L.), winter canola (Brassica napus L.) and soybeans (Glycine max L.) were also evaluated as potential July planted cover crops. No consistent differences in emergence, yield and specific gravity of potatoes were observed following any of the cover crops. In 1991 the field used had high levels of root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus penetrans Cobb). Cereal cover crops had no effect on root lesion nematodes but soybeans increased nematode populations which apparently lowered the yield of Superior potatoes. Oilseed radish and winter canola cover crops resulted in nematode populations somewhat higher but not significantly different from those of bare soil controls and yield of potatoes equal to the controls. Use of canola and oilseed radish show promise as covercropping options in early potato production.



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Created: 03-23-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 01:01:52 PM