The recent interest in cover crops as a component of Midwest corn and soybean production systems has led to a greater need to understand the most effective herbicide treatments for cover crop termination prior to planting corn or soybean. Previous research has shown that certain cover crop species can significantly reduce subsequent cash crop yields if not completely terminated. Two field experiments were conducted in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to determine the most effective herbicide program for the termination of winter wheat, cereal rye, crimson clover, Austrian winter pea, annual ryegrass, and hairy vetch; and cover crops were terminated in early April or early May. Visual control and above ground biomass reduction was determined 28 d after application (DAA). Control of grass cover crop species was often best with glyphosate alone or combined with 2,4-D, dicamba, or saflufenacil. The most consistent control of broadleaf cover crops occurred following treatment with glyphosate 2,4-D, dicamba, or saflufenacil. In general, control of cover crops was higher with early April applications compared to early May. In a separate study, control of 15-, 25-, and 75-cm tall annual ryegrass was highest with glyphosate at 2.8 kg ha-1 or glyphosate at 1.4 kg ha-1 plus clethodim at 0.136 kg ha-1. Paraquat- or glufosinate-containing treatments did not provide adequate annual ryegrass control. For practitioners who desire higher levels of cover crop biomass, these results indicate that adequate levels of cover crop control can still be achieved in the late spring with certain herbicide treatments. But it is important to consider cover crop termination well in advance to ensure the most effective herbicide or herbicide combinations are used and the products are applied at the appropriate stage.
Nomenclature: Annual ryegrass, Lolium perenne L. ssp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot; Austrian winter pea, Pisum sativum L.; cereal rye, Secale cereale L.; crimson clover, Trifolium incarnatum L.; hairy vetch, Vicia villosa Roth.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.