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1 January 2014 Rolled Cotton Mulch as an Alternative Mulching Material for Transplanted Cucurbit Crops
W. Carroll Johnson, James N. Ray, Jerry W. Davis
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Cantaloupe and watermelon growers in the southeastern United States use a system of hybrid transplants grown on narrow low-density polyethylene (LDPE) mulch-covered seedbeds with overhead irrigation and use the mulch cover for only one crop. LDPE mulches are costly to remove from the field and dispose. Biodegradable mulches that eliminate removal and disposal costs would be of significant benefit, provided that weeds are adequately suppressed. Cotton gin trash is a biodegradable waste product, composed of fiber fragments and seed pieces. Using a proprietary process, cotton gin trash can be chopped, pressed, and heated into a loose mat and stored on a continuous roll. Preliminary studies were conducted in 2010 and 2011 to determine if rolled cotton fiber mulch made from gin trash could be applied as a seedbed cover using conventional application equipment and adequately suppress weeds. Mulching materials (rolls 91 cm wide) were applied with a mulch layer that produced a finished seedbed 40 cm wide. ‘Athena' cantaloupe and ‘Crimson Sweet' watermelon were transplanted using a waterwheel transplanter. Mulching materials included rolled cotton fiber mulch sprayed with boiled linseed oil after mulch application, rolled cotton fiber mulch sprayed with black latex paint, black LDPE, and bare ground. Herbicide treatments included ethalfluralin, halosulfuron, and glyphosate applied as directed spray and nontreated with herbicides. Rolled cotton fiber mulch was easily applied with a conventional mulch layer with no modification and minimal adjustment, producing no tears or holes. Biodegradable cotton fiber mulch treated with boiled linseed oil or black latex paint suppressed weeds equally well as LDPE and all were better than bare-ground plots. Herbicides improved control of all weeds over the nontreated control and this effect was independent of weed suppression provided by seedbed mulches. Cantaloupe and watermelon yields were not affected by seedbed mulches, but were increased by weed control provided by herbicides.

Nomenclature: Smallflower morningglory; Jacquemontia tamnifolia (L.) Griseb.; smooth pigweed; Amaranthus hybridus L.; southern crabgrass; Digitaria ciliaris (Retz.) Koel.; yellow nutsedge; Cyperus esculentus L.; cantaloupe; Cucumis melo L.; watermelon; Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai.

Los productores de melón y de sandía en el sureste de los Estados Unidos usan un sistema de trasplante de híbridos, los cuales son crecidos en camas angostas cubiertas con una cobertura plástica de polyethylene de baja densidad (LDPE) con riego de aspersión aérea, y la cobertura plástica se usa solamente por un cultivo. Las coberturas de LDPE son difíciles de remover del campo y de desechar. Las coberturas biodegradables que eliminan los costos de remoción y de desecho serían un beneficio significativo, si suprimen adecuadamente las malezas. Los residuos vegetales producto de la limpieza de la fibra de algodón son un desecho biodegradable, compuesto de fragmentos de fibra y de partes de semillas. Usando un proceso patentado, los desechos de la limpieza del algodón pueden ser partidos, prensados, y calentados para producir un tejido que se puede almacenar como un rollo continuo. En 2010 y 2011, se realizaron estudios preliminares para determinar si la cobertura de fibra enrollada de algodón a partir de desechos de la limpieza del algodón podría ser aplicada como cobertura sobre las camas de siembra usando un equipo de aplicación convencional y si esto suprimiría adecuadamente las malezas. Los materiales de cobertura (rollos de 90 cm de ancho) fueron aplicados con una cobertura que produjo una cama terminada de 40 cm de ancho. El melón 'Athena' y la sandía 'Crimson Sweet' fueron t

W. Carroll Johnson, James N. Ray, and Jerry W. Davis "Rolled Cotton Mulch as an Alternative Mulching Material for Transplanted Cucurbit Crops," Weed Technology 28(1), 272-280, (1 January 2014).
Received: 23 April 2013; Accepted: 1 August 2013; Published: 1 January 2014

Biodegradable mulch
cotton gin trash
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