Direct-seeding of cover crops is often promoted to reduce potential soil loss during the winter, enhance soil fertility, and reduce energy use and equipment traffic on fields. The impact of direct-seeding of cover crops on wild-proso millet seedling emergence in subsequent crops is unknown. In this study, a pulse–chase experiment determined the effect of five fall soil management strategies, two spring primary tillage levels, and two herbicide programs on wild-proso millet emergence in a subsequent crop of snap beans. Wild-proso millet seeds were sown following sweet corn harvest in two commercial production fields to simulate seed rain at a density of 500 and 1,000 seeds m−2 in the fall of 2004 and 2005, respectively. The experimental design was a split–split plot. Five fall treatments were applied to main plots and included direct drilling of cover crops, conventionally tilled and drilled cover crops, a winter fallow treatment, and two additional treatments that were direct-drilled and conventionally tilled in the fall but that were not seeded with cover crops to separate the effects of tillage and cover crops on wild-proso millet emergence. Main plots were split in the spring and snap beans planted without primary tillage or conventionally planted after the soil was tilled. Tillage and cover crop treatments applied in the fall influenced emergence in the spring but with slightly different outcomes at the two sites. Direct drilling without a cover crop produced more wild-proso millet seedlings in snap beans than the winter fallow plot; tillage before cover crop planting in the fall produced recruitment levels less than or equal to densities in the winter fallow plots, with one exception. At one site, cover crops increased emergence compared to plots without cover crops. Spring tillage did not alter the affect of the five fall management treatments on wild-proso millet emergence. Direct-seeding of cover crops should be done with equipment or methods that minimize soil disturbance to prevent movement of wild-proso millet seeds into protected and favorable zones of emergence in the soil.
Nomenclature: Wild-proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L.; snap beans, Phaseolus vulgaris L. ‘OR91G’ and ‘Medinah’