Parthenium is a competitive weed spreading in tropical countries. Field experiments were conducted to compare the effect of hand hoeing, growing a smother crop, and applying a herbicide (2,4-D) on parthenium growth and on yield of grain sorghum in smallholder farming systems in eastern Ethiopia. Hand hoeing twice and a smother crop (cowpea) in combination with hand hoeing once consistently suppressed parthenium at the experimental sites. Application of 2,4-D provided inconsistent control of parthenium, possibly because of reemergence from the soil seed bank after control. Growing cowpea as the smother crop suppressed parthenium, but sorghum grain and stalk yields were reduced even when the smother crop was combined with hoeing. Hand hoeing twice, 4 and 8 wk after emergence of sorghum, consistently resulted in better yields than application of 2,4- D and growing smother crop. It is possible that hoeing, apart from controlling the weed, also created better soil conditions for rain water infiltration.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D, (2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid; parthenium, Parthenium hysterophorus L.; cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.; grain sorghum, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.
Additional index words: Hand hoeing, smother crop, Ethiopia.