Brassica cover cropping for weed management: A review

Erin R. Haramoto, Eric R. Gallandt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Cover crops offer many benefits for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on external inputs. These include maintaining and improving soil quality, preventing erosion and, in some cases, allelopathic weed control. Allelopathic potential has been well documented for cover crops such as cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) and red clover (Trifolium pratense L.). Much less is known about other potentially allelopathic cover crops, including certain brassicaceous species that are normally grown for their oilseeds, including canola and rapeseed (both Brassica napus L.) and mustards (e.g., Sinapis alba L., white and yellow mustard). Because of their potential contribution to pest management, there is increased interest in growing brassicas, both as cover crops and as seed crops harvested for oil production. In this review, we first discuss unique attributes of brassicas that make them promising options for pest management, as well as generally beneficial cover crops. Next, we review the literature from controlled settings on the effects of brassicas, brassica extracts and isolated compounds contained therein on seed germination, seedling emergence and establishment, and seedling growth-effects that, combined or taken alone, could contribute to reducing the density and vigor of weed communities in the field. Field studies examining the detrimental effects of brassicas in rotation with other crops, as well as examining the effects of brassica cover crops on weed dynamics in subsequent crops, also are reviewed. Finally, we review some important agronomic considerations about the use of brassica cover crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Allelopathy
  • Brassicas
  • Cover crop residues
  • Green manure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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