Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 April 2019
In recent years, the use of cover crops has increased in U.S. crop production systems. An important aspect of successful cover crop establishment is the preceding crop and herbicide program, because some herbicides have the potential to persist in the soil for several months. Few studies have been conducted to evaluate the sensitivity of cover crops to common residual herbicides used in soybean production. The same field experiment was conducted in 2016 in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, and repeated in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Missouri in 2017 to evaluate the potential of residual soybean herbicides to carryover and reduce cover crop establishment. Herbicides applied during the soybean growing season included acetochlor; acetochlor plus fomesafen; chlorimuron plus thifensulfuron; fomesafen; fomesafen plus S-metolachlor followed by acetochlor; imazethapyr; pyroxasulfone; S-metolachlor; S-metolachlor plus fomesafen; sulfentrazone plus S-metolachlor; sulfentrazone plus S-metolachlor followed by fomesafen plus S-metolachlor; and sulfentrazone plus S-metolachlor followed by fomesafen plus S-metolachlor followed by acetochlor. Across all herbicide treatments, the sensitivity of cover crops to herbicide residues in the fall, from greatest to least, was forage radish = turnip > annual ryegrass = winter oat = triticale > cereal rye = Austrian winter pea = hairy vetch = wheat > crimson clover. Fomesafen (applied 21 and 42 days after planting [(DAP]); chlorimuron plus thifensulfuron and pyroxasulfone applied 42 DAP; sulfentrazone plus S-metolachlor followed by fomesafen plus S-metolachlor; and sulfentrazone plus S-metolachlor followed by fomesafen plus S-metolachlor followed by acetochlor caused the highest visual ground cover reduction to cover crop species at the fall rating. Study results indicate cover crops are most at risk when following herbicide applications in soybean containing certain active ingredients such as fomesafen, but overall there is a fairly low risk of cover crop injury from residual soybean herbicides applied in the previous soybean crop.