Horticulture Research Station

Optimizing Weed Control in Organic Mesotunnel Systems

Authors: ,


Organic growers of cucurbit crops such as muskmelon are losing millions of dollars every year due to bacterial wilt, which is caused by Erwinia tracheiphila. Bacterial wilt is vectored by spotted and striped cucumber beetles. There are no reliable organic insecticides, and no resistant muskmelon varieties are available. A new production system called mesotunnels has shown promising results from previous studies. They are more durable, breathable, and spacious than low tunnels, and can provide protection during most or all of the growing season. A major challenge in mesotunnel systems is how to manage weeds with full-season row covers. Weeds compete with crops for sunlight, water, and nutrients, and their growth must be limited to obtain a reasonable yield. Under mesotunnels, weeds might shade out young crop plants as well as rob the soil of nutrients and water. Living mulches are considered to be a viable option for weed control in mesotunnels, because they are inexpensive and enhance soil health. The objective of this study is to optimize weed control and enhance soil health under mesotunnel systems in organic production. This is the first year of a 4-yr study.


How to Cite: Mphande, K. & Gleason, M. L. (2020) “Optimizing Weed Control in Organic Mesotunnel Systems”, Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms Progress Reports. 2019(1).