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Evaluation of "Green Manure" Rotational Strategies for Potatoes in Upstate New York 2002

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Project Leader(s):

John J. Mishanec, CCE, NYS IPM Program


Ralph Childs and Ron Edgely, Franklin and Essex County potato growers, Richard Gast, CCE Franklin County Agricultural Technician, Prof. Don Halseth, Fruit and Vegetable Science Dept., Cornell University

Type of grant:

Cultural methods; sanitation; physical controls

Project location(s):

This work occurred in Franklin and Essex counties. Findings may be applied throughout the Northeast.


North Country potato growers, needing to rotate their fields, are faced with limited choices. Having a short growing season and because soil ph needs to be kept fairly acidic mean many of the options other vegetable growers employ are not available to potato growers. Wishing to maximize soil benefits while away from potatoes, growers have expressed the desire to look at rotational crops they are unfamiliar with. Sudangrass has been successfully employed by onion grower throughout the state as an excellent way to increase organic matter, break up soil hard pans and decrease soil pathogens. In recent years, crops in the mustard family used as green manure have shown soil benefits as well. We looked at yellow mustard and oilseed radish in combination with sudangrass as green manure in a rotation with potato.

The cold, wet spring delayed the growers from getting their potatoes and cash crops planted. Funding was not secured until early June and this also contributed to the late start of the trial. The first trial plantings did not occur till July 14 at the Late Placid location. The trial field in Malone was planted on July 28. Prior to planting, both locations were sampled for nematodes. Soil tests were also taken at both locations to evaluate for organic matter levels. Fifteen acre fields were divided into three five acre plots. One plot was planted in sudangrass, the second in yellow mustard and the third plot was planted in oil seed radish.

At the Lake Placid location, the mustard and oil seed radish plots were plowed down on August 29 and both fields were replanted in yellow mustard again. The sudangrass plot was left to grow as it was still quite small. These plots were then plowed down on September 21. In Malone, the three plots were left to grow till mid September and then plowed down.

Early next summer, we will again sample these fields for nematodes and do soil test. We will next be able to see if these rotational strategies had an impact on organic matter and nematode levels in the field.

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