Certain winter annual weeds have been documented as alternative hosts to soybean cyst nematode (SCN), and infestations of such species have become common in no-till production fields in the Midwest. This research was conducted to determine the influence of herbicide- and cover-crop-based winter annual weed management systems and crop rotation on winter annual weed growth and seed production, SCN population density, and crop yield. Two crop rotations (continuous soybean and soybean-corn) and six winter annual weed management systems (a nontreated control, fall and spring herbicide applications, spring-applied herbicide, fall-applied herbicide, fall-seeded annual ryegrass, and fall-seeded winter wheat) were evaluated in no-tillage systems from fall 2003 to 2006 at West Lafayette, IN and Vincennes, IN. Fall or spring herbicide treatments generally resulted in lower winter annual weed densities than cover crops. Densities of henbit and purple deadnettle increased over years in the cover crop systems but remained constant in the herbicide systems. Averaged over sites and years, winter annual weed densities were nearly 45% lower in the spring than the fall due to winter mortality. Corn yield was reduced by the cover crops at West Lafayette but not Vincennes. Winter annual weed management system had no influence on soybean yield. SCN population density was reduced by including corn in the crop sequence but was not influenced by winter annual weed management. The density of weedy host species of SCN in the experimental area was relatively low (less than 75 plants m−2) compared to densities that can be observed in production fields. The results of these experiments suggest that inclusion of corn into a cropping sequence is a much more valuable SCN management tool than winter annual weed management. In addition, control of winter annual weeds, specifically for SCN management, may not be warranted in fields with low weed density.
Nomenclature: Soybean cyst nematode, Heterodera glycines Ichinohe; corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.