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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 93 No. 2, p. 319-325
    Received: June 9, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): johnfisk1@home.com


Weed Suppression by Annual Legume Cover Crops in No-Tillage Corn

  1. John W. Fisk *a,
  2. Oran B. Hestermanb,
  3. Anil Shresthac,
  4. James J. Kellsa,
  5. Richard R. Harwooda,
  6. John M. Squired and
  7. Craig C. Sheaffere
  1. a Dep. of Crop and Soils Sciences, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824
    b W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1 Michigan Ave E., Battle Creek, MI 49017
    c Dep. of Plant Agriculture, Univ. of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
    d L.G. Seeds, 710 N. Main, Suite 201, River Falls, WI 54022
    e Dep. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108


Cover crops often reduce density and biomass of annual weeds in no-till cropping systems. However, cover crops that over-winter also have the potential to reduce crop yield. Currently, there is an interest in annual medics (Medicago spp.) and other annual legumes that winter-kill for use as cover crops in midwestern grain cropping systems. A 2-yr study was conducted at East Lansing and the Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan, to investigate the influence of annual legume cover crops on weed populations. Two annual medic species [burr medic (M. polymorpha cv. Santiago) and barrel medic (M. truncatula Gaertn. cv. Mogul)], berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L. cv. Bigbee), and medium red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) were no-till seeded as cover crops into winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) stubble in a winter wheat/corn (Zea mays L.) rotation system. Density of winter annual weeds were between 41 and 78% lower following most cover crops when compared with no cover control in 2 out of 4 site years, while dry weight was between 26 and 80% lower in all 4 site years. Impact of cover crops on the density of summer annual weeds was infrequent; however, weed dry weights were reduced by 70% in 1995 following burr medic and barrel medic. Dry weight of perennial weeds before corn planting were 35 to 75% lower following annual legumes compared with the control, while weed density was not affected. This study indicated a potential for annual legumes to reduce weed density and growth in no-till corn grain systems.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.93:319–325.