Potentials for exploiting allelopathy to enhance crop production


Strategies for utilizing allelopathy as an aid in crop production include both avoidance and application protocols. There are immediate opportunities for management of weed and crop residues, tillage practices, and crop sequences to minimize crop losses from allelopathy and also to use allelopathic crops for weed control. Varieties of grain and forage sorghums (Sorghum Spp.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), oats (Avena sativa L.), wheat (Triticum sativum L.),rye (Secale cereale L.), and others may provide weed control and in some instances crop stimulation from their residues. Our four-year field study with cultivated sunflower resulted in no differences in weed biomass between plots with and without herbicide (EPTC) applications. Strip cropping that included sorghum showed that in the subsequent year weed density and biomass were significantly lower in the previous-year sorghum than in soybean strips. Possibilities exist for modification of crop plant metabolism to alter production of allelochemicals. Allelochemical-environmental interactions must be considered in efforts to benefit from allelopathy. Under greenhouse conditions, joint application of low levels of atrazine, trifluralin, alachlor, or cinmethylin with a phenolic allelochemical showed that these two categories of inhibitors acted in concert to reduce plant growth. Allelochemicals may also be adapted as yield stimulants or environmentally sound herbicides, such as cinmethylin and methoxyphenone. Isolation of bialophos, tentoxin, and others shows that bacteria and fungi are good sources of biologically active compounds.

Document Type





Allelochemicals, allelopathy, autotoxicity, bioregulators, crop production, crop residue, herbicides, no-tillage, phytotoxins, weed control, weed interference

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Chemical Ecology