PRS Publications

On the nature of temporary yield loss in maize following canola

Koide, R.T. and M.S. Peoples. 2012. Plant and Soil 360:259-269


Background and Aims: Soy is currently the most important biodiesel feedstock crop in the U.S., but canola is an attractive alternative because of its potential for greater oil yields. Nevertheless, factors other than oil yield must be considered in the choice of biodiesel feedstock crop. For example, soy is mycorrhizal and canola is not. We examined the consequences of soy and canola crops to subsequently-grown maize, which is mycorrhizal. We hypothesized that canola would reduce mycorrhization, P uptake and yield of subsequently-grown maize when compared to soy, and that winter cover cropping with wheat (mycorrhizal) would ameliorate canola's negative impacts. Methods: We established four rotations with two contrasts: either soy or canola in year 1, and with or without winter cover crops, followed by two years of maize. Results: In year 2, mycorrhizal colonization, shoot P concentration and yield of maize were reduced following canola compared to soy. Nevertheless, many of the former canola plots produced maize with much lower growth than did the former soy plots irrespective of mycorrhizal colonization, shoot N or shoot P concentrations. Cover cropping with wheat did not ameliorate these negative effects. The negative effects of canola were temporary as they did not occur in the second year of maize. Conclusions: The negative effects of canola observed in the first year of maize were coincident with a reduction in mycorrhizal colonization, but some other phenomenon appears to be causal, possibly allelopathy. Winter cover cropping was largely ineffective in ameliorating the negative effects of canola on maize.

Key Words

Biodiesel feedstock; Canola; Cover crop; Mycorrhiza; Maize; Soy