Impacts of smooth pigweed (Amaranthus hybridus) on cover crops in southern Ontario.
Amaranthus hybridus is a noxious weed in Ontario, with demonstrated allelopathic properties that can lead to decreased agricultural production. We tested the germination and growth of five cover crop species exposed to A. hybridus extracts, and to dried or fresh materials in soil. A germination index was calculated, and the dry weight of plant organs were measured to quantify responses to treatments. All species had reduced germination (≤29%) in 100% extract. Trifolium pratense had significant root weight reductions in extract (52%) and dried (72%) treatments, whereas shoot weight only decreased (48%) in dried treatment. Medicago sativa shoot weight decreased (52%) in 20g fresh treatment, while root weight decreased (62%) in dried treatment. Shoot weight of Raphanus sativus increased (32%) at mid-extract concentrations, while root weight increased (33%) only with dried treatment; however, both its shoot and root weight decreased (>40%) in fresh treatment. Only the shoot weight of Lolium multiflorum increased (41% in 75% extract and 55% in dried treatment). Both Cichorium intybus shoot and root weights decreased (~50%) in fresh treatment. Crop responses to A. hybridus are complex, and material and species-dependant. Further testing in the field may provide a more comprehensive understanding of how to improve the management of A. hybridus.