Factors affecting the Competitive Ability of Crops Against Weeds

Crops Against Weeds

(a) Density of weeds – Increase in density of weed decrease in yield is a normal phenomena. However, it is not linear as few weeds do not affect the yields so much as other weed does and hence, it is a sigmoidal relationship.

(b) Crop density – Increase in plant population decreases weed growth and reduces competition until they are selfcompetitive. Crop density and rectangularity are very important in determining the quantum and quality of crop environment available for the growth of weeds. Wide row spacing with simultaneous high, intra-row crop plant population may induce dense weed growth. In this respect, square planting of crops in which there are equal row and plant spacing should be ideal in reducing intra-crop plant competition.

(c) Type of weeds species – The type of weeds that occur in a particular crop influences the competition. Occurrence of a particular species of weed greatly influences the competition between the crop and weed. For e.g., E. crusgalli in rice, Setaia viridis in corn and Xanthium sp. in soybean affects the crop yield. Flavaria australasica offers more competition than the grasses.

(d) Type of crop species and their varieties – Crops and their varieties differ in their competing ability with weeds e.g., the decreasing order of weed competing ability is as: barley, rye, wheat and oat. High tolerance of barley to competition from weeds is assigned to its ability to develop more roots that are extensive during initial three weeks growth period than the others. Fast canopy forming and tall crops suffer less from weed competition than the slow growing and short stature and crops. Dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of crops are usually more susceptible to competition from weeds than the tall varieties became they grow slowly and initial stage. In addition, their short stature covers the weeds less effectively.

When we compare the crop-weed competition between two varieties of groundnut TMV 2 (Bunch) and TMV 3 (Spreading). TMV 2 incurred a loss of over 30% pod yield under uncontrolled weed-crop competition while TMV 3 lost only about 15% in its yield. The main reason is due to the spreading nature of TMV 3, which smothered weeds. Longer duration cultivars of rice have been found more competitive to weeds than the short duration ones.

(e) Soil factor – Soil type, soil fertility, soil moisture and soil reaction influences the crop weed competition. Elevated soil fertility usually stimulates weeds more than the crop, reducing thus crop yields. Fertilizer application of weedy crop could increase crop yields to a much lower level than the yield increase obtained when a weed free crop is applied with fertilizer. Weeds are adapted to grow well and compete with crops, in both moisture stress and ample moisture conditions. Removal of an intense moisture stress may thus benefit crops more than the weeds leading to increased yields.

If the weeds were already present at the time of irrigation, they would grow so luxuriantly as to completely over power the crops. If the crop in irrigated after it has grown 15 cm or more in a weed free environment irrigation could hasten closing in of crop rows, thus suppressing weeds. Abnormal soil reactions often aggravate weed competition. It is therefore specific weed species suited to different soil reactions exist with us, our crops grow best only in a specified range of soil pH. Weeds would offer more intense competition to crops on normal pH soils than on normal pH soils.

(f) Climate – Adverse weather condition, e.g., drought, excessive rains, extremes of temperature, will favour weeds since most of our crop plants are susceptible to climatic stresses. It is further intensified when crop cultivation is stratified over marginal lands. All such stresses weaken crops inherent capacity to fight weeds.

(g) Time of germination – In general, when the time of germination of crop coincides with the emergence of first flush of weeds, it leads to intense Crop-Weed interference. Sugarcane takes about one month to complete its germination phase while weeds require very less time to complete its germination. Weed seeds germinate most readily from 1.25 cm of soil. Few weeds even from 15 cm depth. Therefore, planting method that dries the top 3 to 5 cm of soil rapidly
enough to deny weed seeds opportunity to absorb moisture for their germination usually postpones weed emergence until the first irrigation. By this time the crop plants are well established to compete with late germinating weeds.

(h) Cropping practices – Cropping practices, such as method of planting crops, crop density and geometry and crop species and varieties have pronounced effects on Crop-Weed interference.

(i) Crop maturity – Maturity of the crop is yet another factor which affects competition between weeds and crop. As the age of the crop increases the competition for weeds decreases due to its good establishment. Timely weeding in the early growth stages of the crop enhances the yield significantly.

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