Weed control using allelopathic crop plants
The concept that some crop plants may be allelopathic to common weeds of agricultural lands is receiving greater attention as an alternative weed control strategy. Several crops showing promise are: grain and forage species such as barley (Hordeum), oat (A vena), fescue (Festuca), and sorghum (Sorghum), and the agronomic species of corn (Zea) and sunflower (Helianthus). Among the problems that hinder the conclusive demonstration of allelopathic effects of crop plants are the loss of that capacity through selection and the variability among cultivars. Recent studies to evaluate the allelopathic potential of crop plants have shown that several sunflower varieties inhibit the germination and growth of associated weeds and to a greater extent than found in several biotypes of native sunflower. Aqueous extracts of dried sunflower and rape tissue inhibited or stimulated germination and growth of weeds, and the response depended upon the source of extract, the extract concentration, and the weed species tested. The validity of bioassay results was tested in a 5-year field study with sunflower and oat grown in rotation. Weed density increased in all plots but the extent of increase was significantly less in plots of sunflower than in control plots. The use of crop plants with increased allelochemical production could limit the need for conventional herbicides to early season application with late season control provided by the crop.
Key wordsAllelopathy weed control sunflower Helianthus annuus L.
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