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Intermediate wheatgrass (IWG) is a cool-season perennial grass developed as a dual-purpose grain and forage crop. One barrier to adopting this crop is a lack of information on the effects of herbicides on IWG for grain production. An experiment was conducted to evaluate herbicide effects on IWG grain yield, crop injury, and weed control over 2 yr (2019-2021) at sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, and North Dakota, USA. This evaluation included Group 4 broadleaf herbicides registered in wheat: 2,4-D amine, clopyralid, MCPA, and a mixture of clopyralid + MCPA. Each herbicide or mixture was applied at 1X and 2X the labeled wheat application rate to newly planted and established (1 to 5 yr old) IWG stands in the fall or spring. Applications were made during IWG tillering or jointing stages in the fall or during the jointing stage in the spring. Across site years, application timing, herbicide, and application rate showed no effect on IWG grain yield or plant injury. Broadleaf weed control ranged from 71 to 92% across herbicide treatments relative to the nontreated check at the WI site while weed control at the MN site was variable among treatments. At the NY site, herbicides were equally effective for broadleaf weed suppression, whereas weed pressure was very low at the ND site and treatments did not affect weed cover. The results show that newly planted and established stands of IWG are tolerant to the synthetic auxin herbicides 2,4-D amine, clopyralid, and MCPA when applied during tillering or jointing in the fall or during jointing in the spring. Synthetic auxins represent a potentially useful tool for weed control in IWG cropping systems, especially for problematic broadleaf weed species.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has been a leader in weed science research covering topics ranging from the development and use of integrated weed management (IWM) tactics to basic mechanistic studies, including biotic resistance of desirable plant communities and herbicide resistance. ARS weed scientists have worked in agricultural and natural ecosystems, including agronomic and horticultural crops, pastures, forests, wild lands, aquatic habitats, wetlands, and riparian areas. Through strong partnerships with academia, state agencies, private industry, and numerous federal programs, ARS weed scientists have made contributions to discoveries in the newest fields of robotics and genetics, as well as the traditional and fundamental subjects of weed–crop competition and physiology and integration of weed control tactics and practices. Weed science at ARS is often overshadowed by other research topics; thus, few are aware of the long history of ARS weed science and its important contributions. This review is the result of a symposium held at the Weed Science Society of America’s 62nd Annual Meeting in 2022 that included 10 separate presentations in a virtual Weed Science Webinar Series. The overarching themes of management tactics (IWM, biological control, and automation), basic mechanisms (competition, invasive plant genetics, and herbicide resistance), and ecosystem impacts (invasive plant spread, climate change, conservation, and restoration) represent core ARS weed science research that is dynamic and efficacious and has been a significant component of the agency’s national and international efforts. This review highlights current studies and future directions that exemplify the science and collaborative relationships both within and outside ARS. Given the constraints of weeds and invasive plants on all aspects of food, feed, and fiber systems, there is an acknowledged need to face new challenges, including agriculture and natural resources sustainability, economic resilience and reliability, and societal health and well-being.
Perennial grain crops are emerging as a promising addition to sustainable agricultural systems because of their low-input requirements and delivery of ecosystem services. However, adoption of these crops is expected to bring novel management challenges, including those related to plant diseases. In New York, fungal pathogens of annual grains have a significant impact on crop yield and value and are generally controlled through a combination of host resistances, cultural practices and chemical fungicides. Without the availability of crop rotation and soil tillage practices, disease control in perennial grain systems may be problematic, and little is known about perennial grain crop susceptibility to local plant pathogen populations. During 2017 and 2018, ongoing field trials of two perennial grain crops recently introduced in New York, intermediate wheatgrass (IWG; Thinopyrum intermedium) and perennial cereal rye (PCR; Secale cereale), were assessed for the presence of putative fungal pathogens on actively growing plants, overwintered crop residue and harvested grain. A total of nine potential host–pathogen combinations were recorded based on symptomology, pathogen morphology and DNA sequences. Common annual crop pathogens were recovered most frequently, but, at one site, Phyllachora graminis, causal fungus of tar spot and a pathogen not previously reported on crops in New York, was found on IWG. Residue colonization by an important toxigenic pathogen (Fusarium graminearum) was high in both crops, though mycotoxin levels in associated grain were low, indicating either the hosts or environment were unsuitable for disease development. Seed-borne fungal communities differed across crops and locations, and black point, a condition caused by Alternaria and Bipolaris fungi and indicative of compromised grain quality, was prevalent in PCR under some conditions. Growing PCR with intercropped red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) resulted in less Stagonospora colonization of stem residue, and PCR grown with an oat (Avena sativa L.) nurse crop had a reduced incidence of black point. These alternative cultural practices may prove useful for managing disease in perennial grains. Our results suggest that the incorporation of perennial crops into the agricultural landscape will lead to familiar plant disease problems requiring new solutions as well as new problems that may require significant research investments.
Kernza® intermediate wheatgrass [Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & Dewey], the first perennial grain crop to come to market in North America, can provide a number of ecosystem services when integrated into cropping systems that are dominated by annual grain crops. However, grain yield from Kernza is lower than comparable annual cereal crops such as wheat and oats. Also, although Kernza is a long-lived perennial that can persist for decades, grain yield tends to decline over time as Kernza stands age leading most farmers to replant or rotate to a different crop after 3–5 yrs. Increased intraspecific competition as stand density increases with age has been reported to cause grain yield declines. We investigated the effect of strip-tillage applied at two different timings, between the third and fourth grain harvests, from a Kernza stand in upstate New York. Strip-tillage applied in late fall as plants were entering dormancy increased grain yield by 61% when compared to the control treatment without strip-tillage. However, total crop biomass was not reduced resulting in a greater harvest index for the fall strip-tillage treatment. Strip-tillage applied before stem elongation the following spring reduced overall tiller density and total crop biomass but did not impact tiller fertility or grain yield compared to the control treatment without strip-tillage. Increased grain yield in the fall strip-tillage treatment was due to an increase in the percentage of tillers that produced mature seedheads. This suggests that grain yield decline over time is at least partially caused by competition between tillers in dense stands. Results support further research and development of strip-tillage and other forms of managed disturbance as tools for maintaining Kernza grain yield over time.
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