Additive experiments were performed to determine optimum densities for nematode-suppressive cover crops to extend the benefit from the cover crops by also using them for weed suppression. In a preliminary experiment in 2002, a range of cover-crop densities was evaluated in mixtures with smooth pigweed at 5 plants m−2. Smooth pigweed biomass accumulation was suppressed by cowpea, sunn hemp, and velvetbean at the lowest cover-crop populations (38, 44, and 15 plants m−2, respectively). Based on these results, experiments were conducted in 2003 at two locations to examine the effects of lower cover-crop densities on a higher smooth pigweed population density of 15 plants m−2. Cowpea and velvetbean densities ranged from 10 to 50 plants m−2 and sunn hemp from 20 to 100 plants m−2. In 2003, cowpea density had no effect on smooth pigweed biomass. However, smooth pigweed biomass declined linearly by 51% as sunn hemp density increased to 100 plants m−2. Similarly, as velvetbean densities increased, smooth pigweed biomass decreased showing a linear response at one location and quadratic response at the second location. Maximum suppression of smooth pigweed biomass by velvetbean occurred at the highest cover-crop density (50 plants m−2). Excellent suppression of smooth pigweed at 5 plants m−2 or fewer will result in densities of 38, 44, and 15 plants m−2 of cowpea, sunn hemp, and velvetbean. However, with smooth pigweed at 15 plants m−2, optimum cover-crop densities were not obtained because no suppression was obtained with cowpea, and the lowest weed biomass with sunn hemp and velvetbean occurred with the highest densities used. Therefore, when high smooth pigweed densities are expected, sunn hemp and velvetbean should be used at densities greater than 100 and 50 plants m−2, respectively, and further study with higher densities will be needed to define optima.
Nomenclature: Smooth pigweed, Amaranthus hybridus L. AMACH; cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. ‘Iron-Clay’; sunn hemp, Crotalaria juncea L. ‘Tropic Sun’; velvetbean, Mucuna deeringiana (Bort.) Merr. and Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. var. pruriens.