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Effects of competition with weeds on the growth, development and yield of sorghum

  • A. P. Everaarts (a1)

In two field experiments in Suriname, competition between weeds and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) was studied in the rainy seasons of 1982 and 1983. The crop was kept either weed-free or without weed control for each of six different periods of time from planting. Observations made at the end of each period allowed an analysis to be made of the growth and development of a crop with and without weed control.

Due to the crop canopy structure and fertilizer placement near the row, weed growth was concentrated in the rows. Starting at c. 20–30 days after planting, competition with weeds reduced ground-cover and leaf area index of the crop. Competition reduced growth rates, leading to lower yields. Plant population density was not affected, but competition reduced the number of leaves present. Stem length initially increased with competition in one season, but was retarded in another. Competition for nutrients was strong and was found as early as 15 days after planting. Nitrogen was the element most competed for initially. Competition for water occurred, but competition for light seemed unlikely. About 20 weed-free days after planting were necessary to avoid yield losses and around 30 weed-free days to attain negligible weed growth at harvest. Yield reduction was mainly due to a decrease in number of grains per panicle. Competition during floret establishment (c. 30–40 days after planting) should be avoided.

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The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
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