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Effect of a Living Mulch on Weed Seed Banks in Tomato

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Kevin D. Gibson*
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
John Mcmillan
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
Stephen G. Hallett
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
Thomas Jordan
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
Stephen C. Weller
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
Corresponding author's E-mail:


Weeds that emerge between rows in fresh market tomatoes after the critical period of competition are not suppressed by the crop and can produce large quantities of seed. A living mulch planted between rows might limit weed seed production. Buckwheat was seeded between tomato rows after the critical period in 2007 and 2008 in field studies near Lafayette, IN. Weeds were allowed to emerge after the critical period (CP), controlled throughout the growing season (no seed threshold [NST]), or mowed to limit seed production (MOW). Buckwheat and MOW plots were mowed twice after the critical period in 2007 and once in 2008. Seed banks were sampled after the critical period and in the following spring. Tomato yields were not reduced by growing buckwheat between rows. Seed bank densities for common purslane and carpetweed, which escaped mowing due to their prostrate habits, increased in all treatments. Germinable seed bank densities were 306 seeds m−2 or less in the NST and buckwheat treatments but 755 seeds m−2 or more in the CP treatments for species with erect habits in both years. Seed bank densities were lower in the MOW treatment than in the CP treatments in 2007 but not in 2008. In a parallel experiment conducted in adjacent plots, buckwheat was seeded at five rates (0, 56, 112, 168, and 224 kg seed ha−1). Plots were mowed and emergent weeds sampled as described for the intercrop experiment. Weed densities before mowing decreased linearly with buckwheat seed rate. After mowing, no relationship was detected between seed rate and weed densities. This study supports the hypothesis that a living mulch planted after the critical period can be used to limit seed bank growth without reducing tomato yields, but additional research is needed to better understand the effect of mowing on living mulch growth and weed suppression.

En el cultivo del tomate para el mercado en fresco, las malezas que emergen entre los surcos después del período crítico de competencia, no son suprimidas por el cultivo y pueden producir grandes cantidades de semilla. Una cobertura viva sembrada entre surcos podría limitar la producción de estas semillas. En estudios de campo cercanos a Lafayette, IN, en 2007 y 2008, se sembró Fagopyrum esculentum (BW) entre surcos de tomate después del período crítico. Se permitió que las malezas emergieran después del período crítico (CP), se controlaron durante la temporada de crecimiento (NST) o fueron podadas para limitar la producción de semillas (MOW). Las parcelas BW y MOW fueron podadas dos veces después del período crítico en 2007 y una vez en 2008. Se tomaron muestras de los bancos de semillas después del período crítico y en la primavera siguiente. Los rendimientos del tomate no se redujeron por el crecimiento de Fagopyrum esculentum entre surcos. En todos los tratamientos se incrementaron las densidades de los bancos de semillas de Portulaca oleracea y Mollugo verticillata, que debido a sus hábitos rastreros, no fueron afectadas por la poda. Las densidades del banco de semillas germinable, fueron 306 semillas m2 o menos en los tratamientos NST y BW, pero fueron de 755 semillas m2 o más en los tratamientos CP para especies de hábitos erectos en ambos años. Las densidades del banco de semillas fueron menores en el tratamiento MOW que en los CP en 2007 pero no en 2008. En un experimento paralelo realizado en parcelas adyacentes, Fagopyrum esculentum se sembró a cinco dosis (0, 56, 112, 168, y 224 kg de semillas x ha-1). Las parcelas se podaron y se tomaron muestras de las malezas emergentes, como se describió en el experimento del cultivo asociado. Las densidades de las malezas antes de la poda disminuyeron linealmente con la dosis de siembra de Fagopyrum esculentum. Después de la poda, no se detectó ninguna relación entre la dosis de siembra y las densidades de la maleza. Este estudio apoya la hipótesis de que la cobertura viva sembrada después del período crítico puede usarse para limitar el crecimiento del banco de semillas, sin disminuir el rendimiento del tomate, pero se requiere investigación adicional para entender mejor el efecto de la poda sobre el crecimiento de la cobertura viva y la supresión de malezas.

Weed Management—Techniques
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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