Annual ryegrass (ARG) (Lolium rigidum Gaudin) is a problematic weed for chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) production in Australia. Understanding the critical period of control of ARG in chickpea is important for developing effective integrated management strategies to prevent unacceptable yield loss. Experiments were conducted over 2 years at the research farm of the University of Queensland, Gatton, to evaluate the effect of chickpea row spacing (25 and 75 cm) and cultivar (PBA Seamer and PBA HatTrick) and ARG infestation period (from 0, 3 and 6 weeks after planting (WAP), and weed-free) on ARG suppression and grain yield of chickpea. Year × treatment interactions were not significant for any parameter, and none of the treatment combinations showed any interaction for grain yield. Average grain yield was greater (20%) with 25-cm than 75-cm rows. On average, PBA Seamer had 9% higher yield than PBA HatTrick. Average grain yield was lowest in season-long weedy plots (562 kg ha–1) and highest in weed-free plots (1849 kg ha–1). Grain yield losses were lower when ARG emerged at 3 WAP (1679 kg ha–1). Late-emerged ARG (3 and 6 WAP) had lower biomass (4.7–22.2 g m–2) and number of spikes (5–24 m–2) than ARG that emerged early; at 0 WAP, weed biomass was 282–337 g m–2 and number of spikes 89–120 m–2. Compared with wide row spacing, narrow row spacing suppressed ARG biomass by 16% and 52% and reduced number of spikes of ARG by 26% and 48% at 0 WAP and 3 WAP, respectively. PBA Seamer suppressed ARG growth more effectively than PBA HatTrick, but only in the season-long weedy plots. Our results imply that in ARG-infested fields, grain yield of chickpea can be increased by exploring narrow row spacing and weed-competitive cultivars. These cultural tools could be useful for developing integrated weed management tactics in chickpea in combination with pre-emergent herbicides.
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Vol. 70 • No. 2