Evaluation of Allelopathic Potential of Wood Chips for Weed Suppression in Horticultural Production Systems

in HortScience

Shredded and chipped wood mulches are used for weed suppression in perennial fruit crops, in urban landscapes, and occasionally in vegetable crops. Wood chip mulches with weed-suppressing allelochemicals may be more effective for weed control, especially under sustainable and organic production systems, than mulches without such properties. The objective of this study was to test for the presence of water-soluble allelochemicals in wood chips derived from tree species, often found in wood resource recovery operations in the southeastern US. Presence of allelochemicals in water eluates of woodchips and leaves was evaluated in a lettuce bioassay. Eluates of wood chips from red maple (Acer rubrum L.), swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii Nutt.), red cedar (Juniperus silicicola L.H. Bailey), neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), and magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) highly inhibited germinating lettuce seeds, as assessed by inhibition of hypocotyl and radicle growth. The effects of wood chip eluates from these five species were more than that found for eluates from wood chips of black walnut (Juglans nigra L.,) a species previously identified to have weed-suppressing allelochemicals. Tests on red cedar, red maple, and neem showed that water-soluble allelochemicals were present not only in the wood but also in the leaves. In greenhouse trials, red cedar wood chip mulch significantly inhibited the growth of florida beggarweed (Desmodium tortuosum DC.), compared to the gravel-mulched and no-mulch controls.

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Contributor Notes

Corresponding author; e-mail brath@mail.ifas.ufl.edu.
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