A population model of itchgrass was developed for a typical corn–based cropping system in the Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica. Field experiments were conducted to quantify density-dependent seedling mortality and fecundity. Additional information required for the model was obtained from the literature. Effect of control methods on itchgrass density—including a leguminous cover crop (velvetbean), a preemergence herbicide (pendimethalin), and classical biocontrol with the head smut—alone and in combination, were investigated using the model. According to model results, the cover crop planted at high and low densities between corn rows was highly efficient, reducing the initial itchgrass density from 54 plants m−2 to 4 and 17 plants m−2, respectively. Associating velvetbean with corn solely in the first crop each year resulted in predicted itchgrass densities of 33 and 36 plants m−2 (at high and low cover crop planting densities, respectively). The improvement in corn yield from preemergence herbicide or biocontrol in addition to the cover crop was only modest. This indicated that if, in practice, the cover crop is as effective as predicted, an inexpensive control tactic such as biological control (provided that an infection rate of at least 50% can be achieved) should be given priority to prevent income losses.
Nomenclature: Pendimethalin; corn, Zea mays L.; head smut, Sporisorium ophiuri [P. Henn] Vanky [Ustilaginales]; itchgrass, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) W. Clayton RODEX; velvetbean, Mucuna deeringiana Merr.