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Xi Wang, Genhua Niu, Mengmeng Gu, Paul A. Baumann and Joseph Masabni

Mustard Seed Meals (MSMs) are by-products of biodiesel and an alternative to conventional herbicides for organic farming. However, MSMs might also suppress the emergence of vegetable seedlings. The objective of this study was to determine the response of vegetable seedling emergence to different MSM types and rates applied as an alternative herbicide. Six types of vegetable seeds, onion (Allium cepa), two cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ and ‘Buttercrunch’), mustard (Brassica juncea), kale (Brassica oleracea), and Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica), were sowed in petri dishes containing germination mix. MSMs (Sinapis alba ‘IdaGold’ and B. juncea ‘Pacific Gold’) were incorporated into the germination mix at 0, 88, 176, or 265 g·m−2. Petri dishes were sealed for 1, 3, 5, or 7 days after sowing. For onion, ‘Pacific Gold’ had a greater suppressive effect on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’. For kale and mustard, ‘IdaGold’ and ‘Pacific Gold’ had similar suppressive effects on seedling emergence, but ‘Pacific Gold’ delayed emergence of kale at 88 g·m−2 when sealed for 3, 5, and 7 days. For Mizuna, ‘IdaGold’ had more suppressive effects than ‘Pacific Gold’ on seedling emergence, while sealing delayed but did not decrease emergence percentage (EP) at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) compared with the control treatment. For ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce, there were no differences in the suppressive effects between the two MSMs. For ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ lettuce, ‘Pacific Gold’ had more suppressive effects on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’ when sealed at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) for longer durations (7 days) or at higher rates (176 and 265 g·m−2) for shorter durations (1 and 3 days). These results suggest that MSMs might suppress vegetable seedling emergence when applied at high rates (176 and 265 g·m−2), and sealing for more than 7 days after sowing may strengthen the suppressive effect. Extending sealing duration at the medium rates could achieve similar weed control results to high rates without sealing.