Morphological and phenological variation in barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli) in California.
Individual barnyardgrass plants were grown in the absence of competition in a common garden environment at Davis. Cohorts were initiated in mid-March, late April, early June, mid-July, mid-August, and mid-September. Plants within a cohort varied from prostrate to upright. Early and late cohorts required slightly longer to achieve flowering and seed shatter than those initiated in late spring and early summer. The onset and development of senescence varied by as much as 5 wk between individuals within a cohort, and senescence progressed more rapidly for plants in later cohorts. Longest tiller length per plant averaged 150 cm and did not differ by cohort, but within cohort variation was approximately 33%. The number of tillers per plant declined with increasing delay in cohort initiation; within cohort variation exceeded 40%. Leaf numbers decreased from more than 10 000 per plant to less than 400 per plant with increasing delay in cohort initiation date. Individuals within a cohort had more than two-fold variation in leaf numbers. The number of inflorescences decreased from more than 4500 per plant to less than 100 with increasing delay in cohort initiation. Mean inflorescence length and frequency of different inflorescence lengths per plant varied between plants within a cohort. Vegetative biomass exceeded 3000 g for many plants in the early cohorts, and decreased to less than 25 g per plant for some individuals in the September cohort. More than two-fold variation in biomass occurred between plants within a cohort. It was concluded that plasticity in morphology and phenology may contribute to the success of barnyardgrass as a weed.