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Brassica cover cropping: I. Effects on weed and crop establishment

  • Erin R. Haramoto (a1) and Eric R. Gallandt

The Brassicaceae contain glucosinolates, which hydrolyze to form compounds toxic to plants, fungi, nematodes, and certain insects. Lower weed density and biomass in crops grown following incorporation of brassica cover crops suggest that they may contribute to weed management in agricultural systems. Field experiments were conducted to determine whether incorporated brassica cover crops, including canola, rapeseed, and yellow mustard, reduce subsequent weed and crop establishment; a companion paper describes separate but related field experiments that examined the influence of brassica cover crops on plant growth. Emergence rate and total emergence of sixteen weed and crop bioassay species were measured following brassica cover crops, fallow, or incorporated residues of other short-season cover crops including oat, crimson clover, and buckwheat. The bioassay species, representing a range of seed sizes, were chosen to determine whether larger seed size confers protection from residue-mediated effects on emergence. Averaged over bioassay species, brassica cover crops reduced emergence by 23 to 34% compared with fallow; emergence following brassicas was delayed by approximately 2 d. The effects of the incorporated brassica residues were similar to those of the other short-season cover crops, which reduced emergence of the bioassay species by 19 to 39% and delayed emergence by 2 d. Seed size was a poor predictor of a species' establishment. These results suggest that brassica residues are capable of delaying seedling emergence and reducing establishment, although the magnitude of their effects were comparable to other widely available cover crops.

Corresponding author
Corresponding Author, Sustainable Agriculture Program, Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5722;
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