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Estimating seed production of three Setaria species in row crops

  • Frank Forcella, Nathalie Colbach (a1) and George O. Kegode (a2)


Seed production of weedy species of Setaria in crops of Zea mays and Glycine max was studied for 2 yr in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. Viable seed production was curvilinearly related to panicle length. A 100-mm-long panicle of S. pumila, S. faberi, and S. viridis produced 129, 323, and 851 viable seeds, respectively. Values were consistent across years, crops, and herbicide treatments. Frequency distributions of panicle lengths of all panicles within a population closely followed nonlinear Weibull functions and were stable across years and crops but not species or herbicide treatment. Positive skewness of these distributions decreased, and median panicle size (mm) increased, in the following order: S. viridis (41), S. pumila (52), and S. faberi (78). Postemergence herbicides applied at full label rates increased skewness and reduced median panicle size (to 11 mm) and seed production of S. viridis. Skewness lessens the reliability of using average panicle size as a measure of seed production for the entire population. However, integration of panicle size–frequency and panicle size–fecundity relationships provided estimates of the number of seeds per panicle that were more representative of the population than the statistical average panicle. These estimates were 52, 242, and 246 seeds per panicle for S. pumila, S. viridis, and S. faberi, respectively. Multiplication of these values by panicle densities generated seed production estimates that were similar to actual counts of seeds. Setaria seed production tended to be higher in Z. mays than in G. max only because of higher plant and panicle densities. Early-maturing panicles tended to be larger than those maturing later, but seed viability generally was stable across maturity times.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 803 Iowa Avenue, Morris, MN 56267;


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Present address: Department of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58101



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