Evaluation of Winter-killed Cover Crops Preceding Snap Pea

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, 260 Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, 1201 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801.

Winter-killed cover crops may protect the soil surface from erosion and reduce herbicide use in an early planted crop such as pea (Pisum sativum). Our objective was to determine the potential of winter-killed cover crops in a snap pea production system. White mustard (Brassica hirta) produced the most residue in the fall but retained only 37% of that residue into the spring. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) and oats (Avena sativa) produced less fall residue but had more residue and ground cover in the spring. Greater ground cover in the spring facilitated higher soil moisture, contributing to higher weed numbers and weight and lower pea yields for oat and barley compared with a bare ground treatment. White mustard had weed populations and pea yields similar to the bare ground treatment. Within the weed-free subplot, no differences in pea yields existed among cover crop treatments, indicating no direct interference with pea growth by the residues. In greenhouse experiments, field-grown oat and barley residue suppressed greater than 50% of the germination of common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) and shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursapastoris), while in the field none of the cover crop provided better weed control than the fallow.

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To whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail address: masiunas@uiuc.edu
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