Date of this Version



pumpkin, winter squash, cucurbita pepo, cucurbita maxima, cucurbita moschata, winter rye, cover crops, no-tillage, cover crop termination


No-till planting of pumpkin into a killed winter rye cover crop is a system used by growers in a number of states, including Indiana. Advantages mentioned by producers in addition to soil health benefits from the cover crop include cleaner pumpkins at harvest, and in rainy seasons, less mud in the field making a more pleasant experience for customers who pick pumpkins right from the field. This paper reports on a project to develop a workable no-till system at a university research farm that can be used for demonstration and in future research to better understand and improve production practices. The trial included two methods for killing rye in no-till systems: herbicide and roller-crimping. Crops included jack-o-lantern pumpkin and two types of winter squash. Pumpkins and winter squash performed better in conventional tillage than in no-till in this trial. Compared to conventional tillage, the largest reductions in fruit number and yield occurred in crops no-till transplanted into rye killed with glyphosate. Crops no-till transplanted into rye killed by roller-crimping produced intermediate fruit numbers and yield. The effects of tillage treatment appear to be similar for direct-seeded and transplanted crops, although in this trial statistically significant only for the transplanted crops. Pumpkins and two types of winter squash responded similarly to no-till planting into killed winter rye. Weed pressure differed among the tillage treatments and could have been part of the cause of yield differences. For direct-seeded crops, emergence was significantly slower in no-till treatments than in conventional tillage, with the longest delay in treatments where rye was killed by roller-crimping. To improve the no-till system it will be important to improve planting depth and covering of seed in direct-seeded plots; assure adequate soil moisture during planting and establishment; and achieve better weed control, in particular for marestail and eastern black nightshade.