Certain winter annual weeds have been documented as alternative hosts to soybean cyst nematode (SCN), and infestations by such species are common in no-till production fields in the midwestern United States of Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. The objective of this research was to determine the influence of crop rotation and winter annual weed management on winter weed growth, SCN population density, and crop yield. Two crop rotations (SS and soybean–corn rotation) and six winter annual weed-management systems (autumn-applied herbicide, spring-applied herbicide, autumn spring applied herbicides, autumn-seeded Italian ryegrass, autumn-seeded wheat, and a nontreated check) were evaluated in long-term, no-tillage systems at West Lafayette, IN, and Vincennes, IN. In the fourth and fifth years of these experiments, the 2-yr corn–soybean rotation generally resulted in increased soybean yield, decreased winter annual weed growth, and reduced SCN population density compared with SS. Autumn or spring herbicide applications or both were a more effective option than cover crops at reducing winter annual weed density. Cover-crop systems generally did not differ from the nontreated check in winter weed density. Between years three and five, winter annual weed SCN hosts in nontreated check plots increased approximately threefold to levels as high as 102 and 245 plants m−2 at West Lafayette, IN, and Vincennes, IN, respectively, which are infestation levels at or above those commonly observed in production fields. However, controlling winter annual weeds did not influence crop yields or SCN population density. The results of these studies suggest that winter weed management, even at the high levels of weed infestation present in these studies, appears to have little value as a tool for SCN management in corn and soybean production systems in the midwestern United States.
Nomenclature: Soybean cyst nematode, Heterodera glycines Ichinohe; Italian ryegrass, Lolium perenne L. ssp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot; corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.