Weeds and Cover Crops

Published Feb 10, 2008

In a way, weed management trials and cover crop trials belong together. A cover crop growing in a row crop field travels a fine line between failure and becoming a weed itself. On the other end of the spectrum, there are years and situations when weeds take a vacation. What does that mean for management practices? Doug Alert and Margaret Smith (Hampton) have used flame cultivation occasionally and have carried out several on-farm trials of flaming. In the wet spring of 2001, for instance, they found flaming reduced velvetleaf numbers and increased corn yields. 2004 was a different environment (Table 1). The first three weeks of May were dry – good conditions for rotary hoeing. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that flaming (at stage V4) after two rotary hoeings made no difference in weeds or corn yields. But this was the test that Doug was looking for. He writes “Having attended several meetings and being told flaming will increase corn yields even with no need for weed control, I thought this needed checking out… I will use the flamer as needed for weed control but do not plan to use it on all corn acres.”