Brassicaceae cover crops are gaining attention as potential biofumigants for soil pest suppression because of their ability to release biologically active isothiocyanates (ITCs) and other compounds from hydrolysis of glucosinolates (GSLs). However, biofumigation potential of a Brassicaceae is related to its GSL and ITC profile and GSL to ITC conversion efficiency. Field and laboratory experiments were conducted to evaluate the biofumigation potential of seven Brassicaceae cover crops for weed control in plasticulture tomato and bell pepper. GSL concentration and composition varied among cover crops and between roots and shoots of each cover crop. Similar GSLs were produced in both years by roots or shoots of each cover crop, but GSL concentrations were variable between years. Total GSLs contributed to the soil by incorporation of Brassicaceae cover crop tissues were estimated between 47 to 452 nmol g−1 soil. Highest ITC concentration was detected in soil at 3 h after cover crop incorporation, and concentration decreased at later timings. GSL to ITC conversion efficiency ranged from 1 to 39%, with variation among cover crops and between years. No injury was observed in tomato and bell pepper transplanted 1 wk after cover crop incorporation, indicating the tolerance of tomato and pepper to ITCs released by the cover crops. Early-season yellow nutsedge control from Brassicaceae cover crops was ≤ 53% at 2 wk after transplanting and declined to ≤ 18% later in the season. This research demonstrates that Brassicaceae cover crops have marginal potential for early-season weed control and cannot be used as a weed control practice in commercial tomato and bell pepper production.
Nomenclature: Yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus L. CYPES; bell pepper, Capsicum annuum L. ‘Heritage’; tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. ‘Amelia’