Weed interference periods in cowpea crop
ABSTRACT Cowpea is one of the pulse crops that present the highest potential for growing in the Semiarid region of Brazil. Lowcost vegetable protein source, it has resilience to adverse conditions, however, in competition with weeds, its productivity can be strongly compromised. To overcoming this situation, it is essential for integrated management programs to determine the critical period for preventing interference. Thus, the objective of this work was to determine weed interference periods and the effect of coexistence periods on cowpea grain yield in the Semiarid region of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The treatments were arranged in a 2×9 factorial scheme, as follows: cultivation in coexistence with weeds and cultivation under weed control, for nine crescent periods (0-7, 0-14, 0-21, 0-28, 0-35, 0-42, 0-49, 0-56 and 0-63 days after crop emergence), in a randomized experimental block design with four replications. The weed community was studied through phytosociological survey and evaluation of dry matter production and cowpea was evaluated for dry matter production, 100-grain mass and grain yield. The interference periods were determined using a non-linear logistic regression model. The weed community found was composed of 70% dicotyledonous and 30% monocotyledon plants, distributed in seven families and ten species. The coexistence with weeds results in losses of up to 90% in cowpea grain yield. The critical period of weed control in cowpea crop in the Semiarid region of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, is 11 to 36 days after crop emergence.