High Residue Cover Crops for Annual Weed Suppression in Corn and Soybean Production and Potential for Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) to be Weedy

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Virginia Tech


After termination, cover crop residue can suppress weeds by reducing sunlight, decreasing soil temperature, and providing a physical barrier. Experiments were implemented to monitor horseweed suppression from different cover crops as well as two fall-applied residual herbicide treatments. Results suggest that cover crops, other than forage radish in monoculture, can suppress horseweed more consistently than flumioxazin + paraquat or metribuzin + chlorimuron-ethyl. Cover crop biomass is positively correlated to weed suppression. Subsequent experiments were designed to determine the amount of weed suppression from different cover crop treatments and if carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratios or lignin content are also correlated to weed suppression or cover crop residue thickness. Results indicate that cereal rye alone and mixtures containing cereal rye produced the most biomass and suppressed weeds more than hairy vetch, crimson clover, and forage radish alone. Analyses indicate that lignin, as well as biomass, is an important indicator of weed suppression. While cover crops provide many benefits, integrating cover crops into production can be difficult. Hairy vetch, a legume cover crop, can become a weed in subsequent seasons. Multiple experiments were implemented to determine germination phenology and viability of two hairy vetch cultivars, Groff and Purple Bounty, and to determine when viable seed are produced. Almost all germination occurred in the initial cover crop growing season for both cultivars. Both cultivars had <1% of viable seed at the termination of the experiment. These results indicate that seed dormancy is not the primary cause of weediness.



biomass, C:N ratio, germination, horseweed, lignin, weed suppression