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Wild oat causes more crop yield losses and accounts for more herbicide expenditures than any other weed species on the Canadian Prairies. A study was conducted from 2001 to 2005 at four Canadian Prairie locations to determine the influence of repeated cultural and herbicidal management practices on wild oat population density, biomass, and seed production, and on barley biomass and seed yield. Short or tall cultivars of barley were combined with normal or double barley seeding rates in continuous barley or a barley–canola–barley–field-pea rotation under three herbicide rate regimes. The same herbicide rate regime was applied to the same plots in all crops each year. In barley, cultivar type and seeding rate were also repeated on the same plots year after year. Optimal cultural practices (tall cultivars, double seeding rates, and crop rotation) reduced wild oat emergence, biomass, and seed production, and increased barley biomass and seed yield, especially at low herbicide rates. Wild oat seed production at the quarter herbicide rate was reduced by 91, 95, and 97% in 2001, 2003, and 2005, respectively, when tall barley cultivars at double seeding rates were rotated with canola and field pea (high management) compared to short barley cultivars at normal seeding rates continuously planted to barley (low management). Combinations of favorable cultural practices interacted synergistically to reduce wild oat emergence, biomass and seed production, and to increase barley yield. For example, at the quarter herbicide rate, wild oat biomass was reduced 2- to 3-, 6- to 7-, or 19-fold when optimal single, double, or triple treatments were combined, respectively. Barley yield reductions in the low-management scenario were somewhat compensated for by full herbicide rates. However, high management at low herbicide rates often produced more barley than low management in higher herbicide rate regimes.
Glyphosate-resistant (GR) crops are produced over large areas in North America. A study was conducted at six western Canada research sites to determine seed date and tillage system effects on weed populations in GR spring wheat and canola cropping systems from 2000 to 2003. Four-year wheat–canola–wheat–pea rotations were devised with varying levels of GR crops in the rotation. Weed populations were determined at pre– and post–in-crop herbicide application intervals in 2000 and 2003. Early seeding led to higher and more variable in-crop wild oat and wild buckwheat populations. High frequencies of in-crop glyphosate wheat in the rotation usually improved weed management and reduced weed density and variability. Canonical discriminant analysis (CDA) across all locations revealed that by 2003, green foxtail, redroot pigweed, sowthistle spp., wild buckwheat, and wild oat, all associated with the rotation lacking in-crop glyphosate. Similar CDA analyses for individual locations indicated specific weeds were associated with 3 yr of in-crop glyphosate (Canada thistle at Brandon, henbit at Lacombe, and volunteer wheat, volunteer canola, and round-leaved mallow at Lethbridge). However, only henbit at Lacombe and volunteer wheat at Lethbridge occurred at significant densities. Although excellent weed control was attained in rotations containing a high frequency of GR crops, the merits of more integrated approaches to weed management and crop production should also be considered. Overall, rotations including GR spring wheat did not significantly increase short-term weed management risks in conventional tillage or low soil-disturbance direct-seeding systems.
As a weed, wheat has recently gained greater profile. Determining wheat persistence in cropping systems will facilitate the development of effective volunteer wheat management strategies. In October of 2000, glyphosate-resistant (GR) spring wheat seeds were scattered on plots at eight western Canada sites. From 2001 to 2003, the plots were seeded to a canola–barley–field-pea rotation or a fallow–barley–fallow rotation, with five seeding systems involving seeding dates and soil disturbance levels, and monitored for wheat plant density. Herbicides and tillage (in fallow systems) were used to ensure that no wheat plants produced seed. Seeding systems with greater levels of soil disturbance usually had greater wheat densities. Volunteer wheat densities at 2 (2002) and 3 (2003) yr after seed dispersal were close to zero but still detectable at most locations. At the end of 2003, viable wheat seeds were not detected in the soil seed bank at any location. The majority of wheat seedlings were recruited in the year following seed dispersal (2001) at the in-crop, prespray (PRES) interval. At the PRES interval in 2001, across all locations and treatments, wheat density averaged 2.6 plants m−2. At the preplanting interval (PREP), overall wheat density averaged only 0.2 plants m−2. By restricting density data to include only continuous cropping, low-disturbance direct-seeding (LDS) systems, the latter mean dropped below 0.1 plants m−2. Only at one site were preplanting GR wheat densities sufficient (4.2 plants m−2) to justify a preseeding herbicide treatment in addition to glyphosate in LDS systems. Overall volunteer wheat recruitment at all spring and summer intervals in the continuous cropping rotation in 2001 was 1.7% (3.3 plants m−2). Despite the fact that volunteer wheat has become more common in the central and northern Great Plains, there is little evidence from this study to suggest that its persistence will be a major agronomic problem.
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