A 2-yr field study was conducted in Blackville, SC, to assess the potential for using small- grain cover crops and glyphosate as a means of reducing or eliminating the need for atrazine in irrigated Southeastern corn production. Oats, rye, and wheat were no-till, drill seeded each fall and subsequently desiccated in early spring before corn planting. A bareground conventional tilled treatment also was included. Within each cover crop system, the herbicides evaluated included (1) no herbicide; (2) 1.68 kg ai/ha atrazine plus 1.08 kg ai/ha S-metolachlor at corn planting followed by 0.84 kg ae/ha glyphosate; or (3) two applications of 0.84 kg/ha glyphosate alone, applied sequentially. All systems were compared with conventional tillage without a cover crop with 1.68 kg/ha atrazine plus 1.08 kg/ha S-metolachlor at planting followed by 1.12 kg/ha atrazine. Biomass of rye, oats, and wheat at dessication was 497, 369, and 340 g/m2, respectively. All cover crops delayed early-season corn growth. Detrimental effects on early-season corn growth from the oats cover crop were still apparent 7 wk after emergence (WAE), with corn height and biomass reduced 8 and 19%, respectively. Weed biomass in nontreated plots was reduced 84, 68, and 21% by oats, rye, and wheat, respectively, 3 WAE. Oats were more inhibitory of corn and weed growth than rye, although rye produced greater surface residue, indicating possible allelopathy affects. In the presence and absence of each cover crop, atrazine plus S-metolachlor followed by glyphosate or sequential glyphosate applications alone were effective in providing season-long control of pitted morningglory, entireleaf morningglory, Palmer amaranth, Florida pusley, large crabgrass, and common bermudagrass. Corn yields and gross profit margins in sequential glyphosate–treated plots were equivalent or superior to the standard atrazine-based program, which indicates that effective and economical alternatives to atrazine are available.
Nomenclature: Atrazine; glyphosate; S-metolachlor; common bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. #3 CYNDA; entireleaf morningglory, Ipomoea hederacea var. integriuscula Gray # IPOHG; Florida pusley, Richardia scabra L. # RCHSC; large crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. # DIGSA; Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri S. Wats. # AMAPA; pitted morningglory, Ipomoea lacunosa L. # IPOLA; corn, Zea mays L. ‘DK662 RR’; oats, Avena sativa L. ‘Coker 820’; rye, Secale cereale L. ‘Wrenz’; wheat, Triticum aestivum L. ‘Pioneer 2684’.
Additional index words: Allelopathy, conservation tillage, integrated weed management, strip tillage, transgenic corn.
Abbreviations: POST, postemergence; WAE, weeks after emergence.