A Comparison of Winter Cereal Species and Planting Dates as Residue Cover for Cotton Grown with Conservation Tillage
- Philip J. Bauer *a and
- D. Wayne Reevesb
Winter cereals are often used as cover crops before planting cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Black oat (Avena strigosa Schreb.) is the predominate cereal cover crop for cash crops in southern Brazil and Paraguay, but limited information is available on the suitability of black oat as a cover crop in the southeastern USA. The objectives of this study were to compare black oat with adapted winter cereals for this region and to determine the effect of cereal residue species and amount on cotton growth, N status, and lint yield. In a greenhouse study in which black oat and rye (Secale cereale L.) residues were mixed with soil, tap root elongation of both cotton and radish (Raphanus sativa L.) was inhibited more by black oat residue than by rye residue. In a field experiment on a Goldsboro loamy sand (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Aquic Kandiudult), cotton was grown in 1995 and 1996 following black oat, oat (Avena sativa L.), rye, and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) that were planted at three different times (October, November, and December). All four winter cereals had similar biomass production at each planting date in 1995. In 1996, rye was the only species not visibly damaged by a low temperature of −12.2°C that occurred during the winter. Black oat biomass was comparable to wheat in all planting dates but averaged 60% less than rye over all three planting dates and was 37% less than oat in the October planting date in that year. Black oat tended to have a higher N concentration than the other cereal species. Cotton plant density was lowest following black oat and rye. Cotton growth, leaf blade N, and petiole NO3-N were more dependent on residue amount than on residue species. Cotton lint yield following black oat was 120 kg ha−1 higher than lint yield of cotton following rye. Cotton following black oat, wheat, and oat had similar lint yield. Black oat may be a promising cover crop for the southeastern USA, but evaluations of other cultivars and/or improvement programs to improve cold hardiness are needed to improve the utility of this species.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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