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Weeds represent one of the most important biotic threats to agricultural plant health, and the potential global impact of weeds on crop yields is similar to that of all other pests (animal pests and pathogens) combined. Canola is the most-grown crop in Canada based on seeded area and generates on average Can$29.9 billion in economic activity each year. The objective of this report, sponsored by the Weed Science Society of America Weed Loss Committee, was to provide an updated estimate of potential yield and monetary losses due to weed interference in spring canola grown in Canada and the United States. Quantitative yield data from field experiments were provided by researchers and weed science professionals in the northern Great Plains region; the major canola-producing area of North America. Overall, 89 yield loss estimates were compiled, covering the 18-yr period from 2003 to 2020. Average canola yield losses due to weed interference in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and North Dakota were 35%, 30%, 18%, and 28%, respectively. Potential yield losses weighted by canola harvested area averaged 30%, 28%, and 30% for Canada, the United States, and both countries combined, respectively. Therefore, unfettered weed interference in spring canola represents a potential monetary loss of Can$2.21 billion, $0.16 billion, and $2.37 billion for farmers in Canada, the United States, and both countries combined. The realization of such losses could manifest through continued selection for herbicide-resistant weeds, indicating the critical need for canola farmers to diversify resistance selection pressures by implementing proactive integrated weed management programs.
Herbicide-resistant (HR) crops are widely grown throughout the United States and Canada. These crop-trait technologies can enhance weed management and therefore can be an important component of integrated weed management (IWM) programs. Concomitantly, evolution of HR weed populations has become ubiquitous in agricultural areas where HR crops are grown. Nevertheless, crop cultivars with new or combined (stacked) HR traits continue to be developed and commercialized. This review, based on a symposium held at the Western Society of Weed Science annual meeting in 2021, examines the impact of HR crops on HR weed management in the U.S. Great Plains, U.S. Pacific Northwest, and the Canadian Prairies over the past 25 yr and their past and future contributions to IWM. We also provide an industry perspective on the future of HR crop development and the role of HR crops in resistance management. Expanded options for HR traits in both major and minor crops are expected. With proper stewardship, HR crops can reduce herbicide-use intensity and help reduce selection pressure on weed populations. However, their proper deployment in cropping systems must be carefully planned by considering a diverse crop rotation sequence with multiple HR and non-HR crops and maximizing crop competition to effectively manage HR weed populations. Based on past experiences in the cultivation of HR crops and associated herbicide use in the western United States and Canada, HR crops have been important determinants of both the selection and management of HR weeds.
The objective of this paper was to review the reproductive biology, herbicide-resistant (HR) biotypes, pollen-mediated gene flow (PMGF), and potential for transfer of alleles from HR to herbicide-susceptible grass weeds including barnyardgrass, creeping bentgrass, Italian ryegrass, johnsongrass, rigid (annual) ryegrass, and wild oats. The widespread occurrence of HR grass weeds is at least partly due to PMGF, particularly in obligate outcrossing species such as rigid ryegrass. Creeping bentgrass, a wind-pollinated turfgrass species, can efficiently disseminate herbicide resistance alleles via PMGF and movement of seeds and stolons. The genus Agrostis contains about 200 species, many of which are sexually compatible and produce naturally occurring hybrids and hybrids with species in the genus Polypogon. The self-incompatibility, extremely high outcrossing rate, and wind pollination in Italian ryegrass clearly point to PMGF as a major mechanism by which herbicide resistance alleles can spread across agricultural landscapes, resulting in abundant genetic variation within populations and low genetic differentiation among populations. Italian ryegrass can readily hybridize with perennial ryegrass and rigid ryegrass due to their similarity in chromosome numbers (2n = 14), resulting in interspecific gene exchange. Johnsongrass, barnyardgrass, and wild oats are self-pollinated species, so the potential for PMGF is relatively low and limited to short distances; however, seeds can easily shatter upon maturity before crop harvest, leading to wider dispersal. The occurrence of PMGF in reviewed grass weed species, even at a low rate, is greater than that of spontaneous mutations conferring herbicide resistance in weeds and thus can contribute to the spread of herbicide resistance alleles. This review indicates that the transfer of herbicide resistance alleles occurs under field conditions at varying levels depending on the grass weed species.
Increased frequency and occurrence of herbicide-resistant biotypes heightens the need for alternative wild oat management strategies. This study aimed to exploit the height differential between wild oat and crops by targeting wild oat between panicle emergence and seed shed timing. Two field studies were conducted either in Lacombe, AB, or Lacombe, AB and Saskatoon, SK, from 2015 to 2017. In the first study, we compared panicle removal methods: hand clipping, use of a hedge trimmer, and a selective herbicide crop topping application to a weedy check and an industry standard in-crop herbicide application in wheat. These treatments were tested early (at panicle emergence), late (at initiation of seed shed), or in combination at one location over 3 yr. In the second study, we investigated optimal timing of panicle removal via a hedge trimmer with weekly removals in comparison to a weedy check in wheat and lentil. This study was conducted at two locations, Lacombe, AB, and Saskatoon, SK, over 3 yr. Among all the tested methods, the early crop topping treatment consistently had the largest impact on wild oat density, dockage, seedbank, and subsequent year crop yield. The early (at panicle emergence) or combination of early and late (at initiation of seed shed) treatments tended to reduce wild oat populations the following season the most compared to the late treatments. Subsequent wild oat populations were not influenced by panicle removal timing, but only by crop and location interactions. Panicle removal timing did significantly affect wild oat dockage in the year of treatment, but no consistent optimal timing could be identified. However, the two studies together highlight additional questions to be investigated, as well as the opportunity to manage wild oat seedbank inputs at the panicle emergence stage of the wild oat lifecycle.
Wild oat (Avena fatua L.) is one of the most problematic weed species in western Canada due to widespread populations, herbicide resistance, and seed dormancy. In wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and especially in shorter crops such as lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.), A. fatua seed panicles elongate above the crop canopy, which can facilitate physical cutting of the panicles (clipping) to reduce viable seed return to the seedbank. However, the viability of A. fatua seed at the time of panicle elongation is not known. The objective of this study was to determine the viability of A. fatua seed at successive time intervals after elongation above a wheat or lentil crop canopy. A 2-yr panicle clipping and removal study in wheat and lentil was conducted in Lacombe, AB, and Saskatoon, SK, in 2015 and 2016 to determine the onset of viability in A. fatua seeds at successive clipping intervals. Manual panicle clipping of A. fatua panicles above each crop canopy began when the majority of panicles were visible above respective crop canopies and continued weekly until seed shed began. At the initiation of panicle clipping, A. fatua seed viability was between 0% and 10%. By the last clipping treatment (approximately 6 to 7 wk after elongation), 95% of the A. fatua seeds were viable. Seed moisture and awn angle were not good predictors of A. fatua viability, and therefore were unlikely to provide effective tools to estimate appropriate timing for implementation of A. fatua clipping as a management technique. Based on A. fatua seed viability, earlier clipping of A. fatua is likely to be more effective in terms of population management and easier to implement in shorter crops such as lentil. Investigations into long-term effects of clipping on A. fatua populations are needed to evaluate the efficacy of this management strategy on A. fatua.
Herbicide resistance has increased the need for novel weed control strategies. Fluridone has herbicidal as well as potential germination stimulant activity. The objectives of this study were to evaluate fluridone as a fall-applied germination stimulant for weed control and to assess rotational crop tolerance. Fall-applied fluridone was compared with a nontreated control in areas established with false cleavers, volunteer canola, and wild oat at Lacombe, AB, in 2014–2015 and 2015–2016, and at St Albert, AB, in 2015–2016. In the fall, there was a trend for weed densities to be higher in fluridone treatments than in untreated controls across site-years. The stimulatory effect of fluridone on weed germination was not statistically significant in fall assessments, while the weed control effect was significant in 33% of spring assessments. While fluridone reduced weed biomass for some site-years, it also reduced canola crop emergence and biomass at St Albert in 2015–2016, and caused injury symptoms on wheat and field pea. Risk of carryover to subsequent crops outweighed the benefits of using fluridone in the fall to stimulate weed germination in this study.
As chemical management options for weeds become increasingly limited due to selection for herbicide resistance, investigation of additional nonchemical tools becomes necessary. Harvest weed seed control (HWSC) is a methodology of weed management that targets and destroys weed seeds that are otherwise dispersed by harvesters following threshing. It is not known whether problem weeds in western Canada retain their seeds in sufficient quantities until harvest at a height suitable for collection. A study was conducted at three sites over 2 yr to determine whether retention and height criteria were met by wild oat, false cleavers, and volunteer canola. Wild oat consistently shed seeds early, but seed retention was variable, averaging 56% at the time of wheat swathing, with continued losses until direct harvest of wheat and fababean. The majority of retained seeds were >45 cm above ground level, suitable for collection. Cleavers seed retention was highly variable by site-year, but generally greater than wild oat. The majority of seed was retained >15 cm above ground level and would be considered collectable. Canola seed typically had >95% retention, with the majority of seed retained >15 cm above ground level. The suitability ranking of the species for management with HWSC was canola>cleavers>wild oat. Efficacy of HWSC systems in western Canada will depend on the target species and site- and year-specific environmental conditions.
The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD), a novel weed control technology, has been highly effective in Australian cropping systems. To investigate its applicability to conditions in western Canada, stationary threshing was conducted to determine the impact of weed species, seed size, seed number, chaff load, and chaff type on efficacy of seed destruction. Control varied depending on species, with a range of 97.7% to 99.8%. Sieve-sized volunteer canola seed had a linear relationship of increasing control with increasing 1,000-seed weight. However, with greater than 98% control across all tested seed weights, it is unlikely that seed size alone will significantly influence control. Consistently high levels of control were observed at all tested seed densities (10 seeds to 1 million seeds). The response of weed seed control to chaff load was quadratic, but a narrow range of consistently high control (>97%) was again observed. Chaff type had a significant effect on weed seed control (98% to 98.6%); however, seed control values in canola chaff were likely confounded by a background presence of volunteer canola. Overall, the five parameters studied statistically influence control of weed seeds with the HSD. However, small differences between treatments are unlikely to affect the biological impact of the machine, which provides high levels of control for those weed seeds that can be introduced into the harvester.
Field trials were initiated in fall 2011 to determine the potential of pyroxasulfone to control acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitor-resistant weeds in field pea. Pyroxasulfone was applied in split-plot trials at five locations in western Canada using fall and PRE spring applications of 0 to 400 g ai ha−1. Trial locations were chosen with a range of soil organic matter content: 2.9, 4.3, 5.5, 10.5, and 10.6% at Scott, Kernen, Kinsella, Melfort, and Ellerslie, respectively. The herbicide dose required to reduce biomass by 50% (ED50) in false cleavers ranged between 53 and 395 g ha−1 at Scott and Ellerslie, respectively. Wild oat ED50s varied between 0.54 g ha−1 at Scott in the fall and 410 g ai ha−1 in the spring at Melfort. ED50s for wild oat and false cleavers varied by 7.4- and 746-fold, respectively, depending primarily on the organic matter content at the trial location. The effect of application timing was not consistent. Significant yield reductions and pea injury occurred at 150 and 100 g ha−1 and higher at Kernen and Scott, respectively. Low organic matter and high precipitation levels at these locations indicates increased herbicide activity under these conditions. Pyroxasulfone may allow control of ALS inhibitor-resistant false cleavers and wild oat; however, locations with high soil organic matter will require higher rates than those with low organic matter for similar control levels.
Wild oat is a problematic weed species that requires new management
techniques in the face of herbicide resistance; harvest weed-seed control
(HWSC) may be an option. Wild oat demographic information was collected in
long-term, rotational field studies in Lacombe, AB, Canada, in 2006 and
2007, and a periodic matrix model was parameterized using management
extremes (no IPM, no herbicide to high IPM, and full herbicide). Population
growth rates were calculated for each treatment and year. Prospective
(elasticity) and retrospective (LTRE) analyses were conducted alongside a
rearrangement of the model equation in which population growth rates were
designated and the required proportion of newly shed seed survival that
gives that growth rate was solved for. All populations had λ > 1 or
increasing populations. Elasticity analyses indicated that λ was most-highly
elastic to the overwinter seedbank (Esw = 1), followed by seedling survival, fecundity, and survival of
newly shed seed (0.63 to 0.86 across treatments). The latter may be the
most-accessible vital rate for management of herbicide resistant
populations. LTRE exposed the stochasticity of wild oat population growth
rates between years and their ability to take advantage of lapses in
control. Decreasing the proportion of newly shed seeds
(snew) that survives was the most-effective and available control
strategy until reduced to 0.1 to 0.3 when the summer seedbank becomes more
critical. When averaged across treatments, > 80% of newly shed seed must
be eliminated to stop the population from growing, resulting in a stable
population, but not a decline. Because of preharvest shattering, HWSC will
likely not be effective enough alone to cause wild oat populations to
decline. New management techniques for wild oat control that can be used in
combination with HWSC and integrated weed management strategies are
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