Crop Growth and Yield Losses in Wheat Due to Little Seed Canary Grass Infestation Differ with Weed Densities and Changes in Environment

ABSTRACT: Understanding the weed interference with different sowing times of crop is inevitable for forecasting yield losses by weed infestation and designing sustainable weed management systems. A field experiment was carried out to evaluate the effects of sowing dates (20th November, 10th December) and various little seed canary grass (LCG) infestation levels (10, 20, 30 and 40 plant m-2) on growth and yield of wheat under semiarid conditions. Plots with two natural infestations of weeds including LCG (Unweeded control; UWC) and excluding LCG (UWC-LCG) were maintained for comparing its interference in pure stands with designated densities. A season-long weed-free (WFC) treatment was also run. All the weeds/LCG infestation levels starting from 10 LCG plants m-2 considerably reduced the wheat growth (leaf area index, crop growth rate, total dry matter accumulation) and hampered the yield contributing factors in both sowing dates. Presence of LCG was more detrimental for growth of late-sown wheat (10th Dec), therefore, 40 LCG plants m-2 recorded more reductions in growth indices of wheat even than UWC. In late sown wheat crop, the grain yield losses by 40 LCG plants m-2 and UWC were comparable, however, these losses were much greater than UWC LCG. In crux, delay in sowing of wheat not only reduced the crop growth and yield but also enhanced the LCG/weed interference. Furthermore, greater competitive ability of LCG particularly for late-sown wheat suggests that it should be controlled in order to provide healthy environment for crop plants.