Muscatine Island Farm
Growing muskmelon in a more sustainable way involves multiple management practices. “Rolling” cover crops after they mature, and then tilling strips into which the crops are planted, can help manage weeds and moisture while improving soil health. This “strip-tillage” technique provides a biodegradable mat that does not need to be removed at the season’s end, as plastic mulch does. Row covers are placed over newly planted seedlings to provide a better microclimate and a physical barrier to pests. Extending the time of row cover removal by 10 days after the onset of female flowers has been shown to provide season-long prevention of bacterial wilt, which is spread by cucumber beetles. This may reduce the need for chemical sprays.
Iowa State University
Tillman, Jennifer; Nair, Ajay; Batzer, Jean; and Gleason, Mark, "Strip-tillage and Row Cover Use in Organically and Conventionally Grown Muskmelon" (2015). Iowa State Research Farm Progress Reports. 2185.