Seed retention of grass weeds at wheat harvest in the Pacific Northwest.
Harvest weed seed control (HWSC) may control problematic weeds by decreasing contributions to the weed seedbank. However, HWSC practices will not be effective if plants have shed a great part of their seeds before harvest or if a low proportion of seed production is retained at a height that enables collection during harvest. The seed-shattering pattern of several weed species was evaluated over three growing seasons to determine their potential to be controlled with HWSC in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). The studied weed species were downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.), feral rye (Secale cereale L.), Italian ryegrass [Lolium perenne L. ssp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot], and rattail fescue [Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel.]. Seed retention at harvest, seed production, and plant height differed among species, locations, and years. Environmental conditions influenced seed-shattering patterns, particularly the time plants started to shatter seeds and the rate of the shattering. Agronomic factors such as herbicide use, interrow space, or crop height/vigor also seemed to affect shattering patterns and seed production, but more specific studies must be conducted to determine their individual effects. Bromus tectorum, L. perenne ssp. multiflorum, and V. myuros had an average seed retention at harvest of less than 50%. In addition, the low seed retention height of V. myuros makes this species a poor candidate for HWSC. Secale cereale had average seed retention at harvest greater than 50%, and seed retention height was greater than 30 cm. The variability of seed retention in different species will make the efficacy of HWSC practices species and environment dependent in PNW winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cropping systems. Harvesting the wheat crop as early as possible will be crucial to the success of HWSC.