Cover crops can be utilized to suppress weeds via direct competition for sunlight, water, and soil nutrients. Research was conducted to determine if cover crops can be used in label-mandated buffer areas in 2,4-D-resistant soybean cropping systems. Delaying termination of cover crops containing cereal rye to at or after soybean planting resulted in a 25 to more than 200 percentage point increase in cover crop biomass compared to a control treatment. Cover crops generally improved horseweed control when 2,4-D was not used. Cover crops reduced grass densities up to 54% at four of six site-years when termination was delayed to after soybean planting. Cover crops did not reduce giant ragweed densities. Cover crops reduced waterhemp densities by up to 45%. Cover crops terminated at or after planting were beneficial within buffer areas for control of grasses and waterhemp, but not giant ragweed. Yield reductions of 14% to 41% occurred when cover crop termination was delayed to after soybean planting at three of six site-years. Terminating the cover crops at planting time provided suppression of grasses and waterhemp within buffer areas and had similar yield to the highest-yielding treatment in five out of six site-years.
Nomenclature: Giant ragweed; Ambrosia trifida L.; waterhemp; Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) Sauer; cereal rye; Secale cereale L.; soybean; Glycine max (L.) Merr.