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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 44 No. 3, p. 861-869
    Received: May 20, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): kdelate@iastate.edu
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The Effect of Natural Mulches on Crop Performance, Weed Suppression and Biochemical Constituents of Catnip and St. John's Wort

  1. L. M. Dupponga,
  2. K. Delate *a,
  3. M. Liebmana,
  4. R. Hortona,
  5. F. Romerob,
  6. G. Krausc,
  7. J. Petrichc and
  8. P. K. Chowdburyc
  1. a Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
    b Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
    c Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011


Because of expanding markets for high-value niche crops, opportunities have increased for the production of medicinal herbs in the USA. An experiment was conducted in 2001 and 2002 near Gilbert, IA, to study crop performance, weed suppression, and environmental conditions associated with the use of several organic mulches in the production of two herbs, catnip (Nepeta cataria L.) and St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L. ‘Helos’). Treatments were arranged in a completely randomized design and included a positive (hand-weeded) control, a negative (nonweeded) control, oat straw, a flax straw mat, and a nonwoven wool mat. Catnip plant height was significantly greater in the oat straw than the other treatments at 4 wk through 6 wk in 2001; at 4 to 8 wk in 2002, catnip plant height and width was significantly lower in the negative control compared with the other treatments. Catnip yield was significantly higher in the flax straw mat than all other treatments in 2001. In 2002, St. John's wort yields were not statistically different in any treatments. All weed management treatments had significantly fewer weeds than the non-weeded rows in 2002. Total weed density comparisons in each crop from 2 yr showed fewer weeds present in the flax straw and wool mat treatments compared with positive control plots. There was no significant weed management treatment effect on the concentration of the target compounds, nepetalactone in catnip and pseudohypericin–hypericin in St. John's wort, although there was a trend toward higher concentrations in the flax straw treatment.

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