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Non-Chemical Weed Management in Vegetables by Using Cover Crops: A Review

Vegetables are a substantial part of our lives and possess great commercial and nutritional value. Weeds not only decrease vegetable yield but also reduce their quality. Non-chemical weed control is important both for the organic production of vegetables and achieving ecologically sustainable weed management. Estimates have shown that the yield of vegetables may be decreased by 45%–95% in the case of weed–vegetable competition. Non-chemical weed control in vegetables is desired for several reasons. For example, there are greater chances of contamination of vegetables by herbicide residue compared to cereals or pulse crops. Non-chemical weed control in vegetables is also needed due to environmental pollution, the evolution of herbicide resistance in weeds and a strong desire for organic vegetable cultivation. Although there are several ways to control weeds without the use of herbicides, cover crops are an attractive choice because these have a number of additional benefits (such as soil and water conservation) along with the provision of satisfactory and sustainable weed control. Several cover crops are available that may provide excellent weed control in vegetable production systems. Cover crops such as rye, vetch, or Brassicaceae plants can suppress weeds in rotations, including vegetables crops such as tomato, cabbage, or pumpkin. Growers should also consider the negative effects of using cover crops for weed control, such as the negative allelopathic effects of some cover crop residues on the main vegetable crop.

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