Annual and Perennial Alleyway Cover Crops Vary in Their Effects on Pratylenchus penetrans in Pacific Northwest Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus).
AbstractCover crops can provide many benefits to agroecosystems, such as lessening soil erosion and increasing water infiltration. However, cover crop use is not common in established red raspberry ( Rubus idaeus ) fields in the Pacific Northwest. Raspberry growers are concerned about resource competition between the cover crop and raspberry crop, as well as increasing population densities of the plant-parasitic nematode Pratylenchus penetrans , which has a wide host range and has been shown to reduce raspberry plant vigor and yield. A 2-yr study was conducted in an established ‘Meeker’ raspberry field in northwest Washington to evaluate the effects of nine alleyway cover crops, mowed weed cover, and the industry standard of bare cultivated soil on P. penetrans population dynamics, raspberry yield, and fruit quality. The host status for P. penetrans of cover crops included in the field experiment, as well as Brassica juncea ‘Pacific Gold’ and Sinapis alba ‘Ida Gold’, was also evaluated in greenhouse experiments. In the field experiment, P. penetrans population densities did not increase in alleyway cover crop roots over time or in alleyway soil surrounding cover crop roots (means range from 0 to 116 P. penetrans /100 g of soil) compared with the bare cultivated control (means range from 2 to 55 P. penetrans /100 g of soil). Pratylenchus penetrans populations did not increase over time in raspberry grown adjacent to alleyways with cover crops (means range from 1,081 to 6,120 P. penetrans /g of root) compared with those grown adjacent to bare cultivated soil alleyways (means range from 2,391 to 5,536 P. penetrans /g of root). Raspberry grown adjacent to bare cultivated soil did not have significantly higher yield or fruit quality than raspberry grown adjacent to cover crops in either year of the experiment. In the greenhouse assays, ‘Norwest 553’ wheat and a perennial ryegrass mix were poor hosts for P. penetrans , whereas ‘Nora’ and ‘TAM 606’ oat and ‘Pacific Gold’ and ‘Ida Gold’ mustard were good hosts. These results support the idea that the potential benefits of alleyway cover crops outweigh the potential risk of increasing P. penetrans population densities and do not compromise raspberry yield or fruit quality.
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