Authors: Avat Shekoofa, Sara Safikhan, Tyson Raper, and Shawn Butler
Cover crops have been used to suppress weeds, reduce erosion, and increase water infiltration for many years. While cover crops can improve soil quality and physical properties, integration of cover crops into row crop production-specifically cotton- remains challenging. One potential negative impact on cotton growth may come from allelopathy. Allelopathy is defined as the direct or indirect harmful or beneficial effects of one plant on another through the production of chemical compounds that escape into the environment (Fig. 1). Although allelopathic toxicity of cover crops can suppress weeds and therefore assist in weed control, they may also suppress cotton germination and reduce stand. Little is currently known about the actual allelopathic effects of cover crops on germination and seedling growth of cotton. Proper selection of cover crop species and termination timing could potentially reduce the allelopathic toxicity which negatively impacts cotton germination and early seedling growth.