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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Crop Economics, Production & Management

Winter Cereal Canopy Effect on Cereal and Interseeded Legume Productivity


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 103 No. 4, p. 1180-1185
    Received: Dec 14, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): bblaser@wtamu.edu
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  1. Brock C. Blaser *a,
  2. Jeremy W. Singerb and
  3. Lance R. Gibsonc
  1. a Dep. of Agricultural Sciences, West Texas A&M Univ., Canyon, TX 79016
    b USDA-ARS, National Lab. for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, IA 50011
    c Pioneer Hi-Bred Int., Johnston, IA 50131


Interseeding red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) or alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) into winter cereals in the North Central United States can provide forage and a green manure crop. We hypothesized that winter cereal canopy traits such as leaf area index (LAI) and whole plant dry matter (DM) would influence interseeded legume establishment and productivity, yet the effect of canopy traits on resource competition in intercropping systems is not well understood. This study was conducted from 2005 to 2007 to evaluate the impact of diverse cereal canopy traits on the establishment of frost-seeded legume intercrops. In March, red clover and alfalfa were frost-seeded into three winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and three triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack) varieties selected for differences in maximum LAI, plant height, and DM. Across three growing seasons, the cereals produced a range of LAI from 2.1 to 6.2 and whole plant harvest DM of 817 to 2029 g m−2. In the 2 yr with legume data, densities were influenced by cereal 1 yr and DM was affected by cereal both years. Alfalfa and red clover densities were similar, yet DM production was 42% higher in red clover 40 d after grain harvest. The presence of a legume intercrop did not affect grain yield, but reduced weed densities and weed DM 40 d after harvest. Producers implementing this intercrop may select cereal varieties based on grain yield, but must be cautious of varieties known to produce above normal LAI values because of the potential to reduce legume productivity.

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