Invasiveness of agronomic weed species in wheat in Western Australia

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Weed Research


Bromus diandrus, colonisation, competitiveness, great brome, invasion, Lolium rigidum, rigid ryegrass, Triticum aestivum


Weed seeds are introduced to agronomic systems naturally or through human-mediated seed dispersal, and introduced seeds have a high chance of being resistant to selective, in-crop herbicides. However, colonisation (invasion) rates for a weed species are usually much lower than rates of seed dispersal. The current research investigated colonisation of a winter annual wheat cropping system in Western Australia by a range of winter or summer annual weed species. The weed seeds were sown (at 100 seeds/m2) directly before seeding the crop in 2016 and allowed to grow in the following 3 years of wheat. Selective herbicides were not applied, to simulate growth of weed populations if the initial seed had been resistant to herbicide. Bromus diandrus, Hordeum leporinum, Rumex hypogaeus, Sonchus oleraceus, Polygonum aviculare, Lolium rigidum, Citrullus amarus and Tribulus terrestris colonised the crop, while Dactyloctenium radulans, Chloris truncata and Salsola australis failed to establish over 3 years. The most successful weed was B. diandrus, with a plant density of 1,170/m2 by the third year and seed production of 67,740/m2. The high density of B. diandrus reduced wheat density by 76% in the third year and reduced average yield by 36%. Lolium rigidum reduced average yield by 11%, and the other weed species did not affect crop yield. Further research is required on the invasiveness of these species in other regions, but it is clear that the spread of B. diandrus to new areas or the introduction of resistant B. diandrus seeds via contaminated grain should be avoided.