High levels of cover-crop residue can suppress weed emergence and also can intercept preemergence herbicides and potentially reduce their effectiveness. This research was conducted in continuous no-tillage corn to compare the effect of residue from a hairy vetch cover crop with that of background crop residue on the soil solution concentration of atrazine and metolachlor and on the emergence of weeds with and without herbicide treatment. In a 3-yr field experiment, 5-cm-deep soil samples were taken and the weed density measured in paired microplots with and without herbicide at approximately weekly intervals after application of atrazine and metolachlor. High levels of residue were present in both treatments; the percentage of soil covered by residue ranged from 91 to 99 in the no–cover-crop treatment and from 99 to 100 in the hairy vetch treatment. Initial metolachlor concentration was lower and degradation rate higher in two of the 3 yr with a hairy vetch cover crop than without a cover crop. Cover-crop treatment had little effect on atrazine concentration or degradation. Annual grass weeds (predominantly fall panicum) were the major species in this field. Hairy vetch alone reduced grass emergence by 50 to 90%, and preemergence herbicides alone reduced emergence by 72 to 93% compared with the treatment without cover crop and herbicide. The combination of preemergence herbicides with hairy vetch provided only 24 to 61% control of grass weeds compared with control by hairy vetch alone and 23 to 52% compared with control by herbicide alone, suggesting an antagonism probably resulting from reduced metolachlor concentration by hairy vetch residue. Metolachlor with hairy vetch delayed emergence of weeds and reduced the concentration of metolachlor required to prevent emergence initiation compared with metolachlor without a cover crop.
Nomenclature: Atrazine; metolachlor; fall panicum, Panicum dichotomiflorum Michx. PANDI; corn, Zea mays L.; hairy vetch, Vicia villosa Roth VICVI.