Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) (HV) and cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] (CP) are two leguminous cover crops used in vegetable production systems. The residues of both species have been shown to suppress weeds via allelopathic interactions; however, they may also carry a risk of crop injury. A laboratory experiment was designed to study the dose response of carrot, sweet corn, cucumber, lettuce, onion, pepper, and tomato germination and radicle elongation to the aqueous extracts of both HV and CP. Aqueous extracts of fresh, whole plants were lyophilized to obtain a dry powder. Treatments of 0.00, 0.25, 0.50, 1.00, 2.00, 4.00, and 8.00 g dry extract/L of distilled water were applied to 10 seeds on filter paper in petri dishes. The petri dishes were then sealed and placed in the dark at 21 °C for 4 to 7 days, depending on the species germination. After the incubation period, germination rates and radicle lengths were recorded. Each treatment had 4 replications and the full experiment was executed twice. Pepper germination was reduced by increasing concentrations of HV extract; however, all other crops were not affected by HV or CP extracts. The HV extract had a significant effect on radicle elongation in carrot, corn, cucumber, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Inhibition of radical growth at 8 g·L-1 ranged from 42% in cucumber to as high as 81% in carrot. The CP extract had a negative effect on the radicle elongation of carrot, corn, lettuce, and tomato. Inhibition at 8 g·L-1 ranged from 42% in carrot to 67% in tomato. This study shows that both HV and CP extracts hold the potential to negatively affect the listed crops. Therefore, studies need to be done on the persistence of these effects in the field to maximize weed control while avoiding crop injury.
Cucumber is an important vegetable in Michigan, where it is grown for slicing (fresh) or processing. Michigan is the top producer of pickling cucumbers in the United States, with over 27% of the total national production. Studies were conducted in 2004 to test the effects of plant density on cucumber fruit quality. Cucumber var. `Vlaspik' was seeded in 30.5, 45.7, 61.0, and 76.2 cm rows with 12.7 cm spacing between plants inside the row, corresponding to final plant populations of 258, 172, 129, and 103 thousand plants/ha, respectively. The experiment used a randomized complete-block design with 4 replications and four rows per plot. At harvest, 10 fruits of grade 2 were randomly selected from each plot for measurement of specific gravity, firmness, soluble solids, color, and seed size. Cucumber fruit specific gravity, soluble solids, and seed size were not affected by plant population size. However, fruit firmness and color varied with plant density. Low plant populations, when compared to high populations, produced darker green fruits, a desired trait in pickling cucumber production. On a scale of 0 (yellowish) to 5 (dark green), plants grown under a population of 258 thousand plants/ha scored an average of 2.8. The score was 4.6 for fruits produced in plots with 103 thousand plants/ha. Low plant populations increased fruit firmness as measured by a puncture test. Fruit firmness was 89, 93, 97, and 95 g·mm-2 for 258, 172, 129, and 103 thousand plants/ha, respectively. Results suggest that cultural practices may affect pickling cucumber fruit quality.
Laboratory experiments were conducted to study the effect of aqueous extracts of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) cover crops on germination and radicle elongation in seven vegetable and six weed species. Lyophilized aqueous extracts of the cover crops were dissolved in reverse osmosis (RO) water to produce seven concentrations: 0.00, 0.25, 0.50, 1.00, 2.00, 4.00, and 8.00 g·L–1. Each treatment had 4 replications and the full experiment was repeated. Experiment 1 (E1) and Experiment (E2) were conducted under similar conditions. In general, seed germination was not affected by extracts of both cover crops. However, radicle growth of all species tested (except common milkweed exposed to cowpea extract) was affected by the cover crop residue extracts. Low concentrations of hairy vetch extract stimulated the radicle growth of carrot, pepper, barnyardgrass, common milkweed, and velvetleaf. Likewise, low concentrations of cowpea extract stimulated the growth of corn, barnyardgrass, and velvetleaf. At higher concentrations all species tested were negatively affected. The order of species sensitivity to the hairy vetch extract, as determined by the IC50 (concentration required to produce 50% radicle inhibition) values, was common chickweed > redroot pigweed> barnyardgrass E1 > carrot E1 > wild carrot > corn > carrot E2 > lettuce > common milkweed > tomato > onion > barnyardgrass E2 > velvetleaf > pepper > cucumber (most sensitive to least sensitive). For cowpea the order was common chickweed > redroot pigweed > corn > tomato > lettuce > wild carrot > pepper > carrot > cucumber > onion> barnyardgrass and velvetleaf. Results suggest that the susceptibility of weeds and vegetable crops to aqueous extracts of hairy vetch and cowpea is dependent on both species and extract concentration.