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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #296230

Title: Winter cover crop effect on corn seedling pathogens

item SCHENCK, LARA - Iowa State University
item Kaspar, Thomas
item Moorman, Thomas
item BAKKER, MATTHEW - Colorado State University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/6/2013
Publication Date: 11/6/2013
Citation: Schenck, L., Kaspar, T.C., Moorman, T.B., Bakker, M.G. 2013. Winter cover crop effect on corn seedling pathogens. In: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts, Nov. 3-6, 2013, Tampa, FL. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Cover crops are an excellent management tool to improve the sustainability of agriculture. Winter rye cover crops have been used successfully in Iowa corn-soybean rotations. Unfortunately, winter rye cover crops occasionally reduce yields of the following corn crop. We hypothesize that one potential cause of this corn yield decrease is that glyphosate-killed rye cover crops may be hosts for corn seedling root pathogens and the dying cover crops may pass those pathogens on to the following corn crop. If environmental conditions are favorable for these pathogens to infect corn plants (cold and wet), then these pathogens might decrease yield in some years or fields. To test this idea, we began a series of experiments that will progress from pot studies in a controlled environment to field studies. This poster will report on some preliminary controlled environment studies. Preliminary experiments indicate that dying rye cover crop plants may pass on pathogens to germinating corn seedlings and increase infection of seedling roots when conditions are conducive for pathogen infection. However, corn plants may compensate for this early infection stress and it may not affect final plant population or yield. Additionally, the cover crop may have other effects that impact yield.