Manipulation of cropping systems to improve weed management requires a better understanding of how crop- and soil-related factors affect weed life cycles. Our objective was to assess the impacts of timing of primary tillage and use of legume green manure on giant foxtail demography and soil properties. We measured giant foxtail seed survival and dormancy, seedling emergence and survival, and fecundity, in addition to soil phytotoxicity, chemical properties affecting soil fertility and soil water, in the transition between the wheat and corn phases of a wheat–corn–soybean crop sequence. Postdispersal predation of giant foxtail seeds was measured in all three phases of the crop sequence. Wheat was grown either as a sole crop (W) or underseeded with red clover (R), and residues from this phase were rototilled either in the fall (FT) or in spring (ST). There were strong interactions between Red clover and Tillage timing in their effects on giant foxtail recruitment and fecundity in corn. Giant foxtail seedling emergence was 30% lower, and time to 50% emergence was more than 1 wk later, in the ST/R treatment than in the ST/W, FT/W, and FT/R treatments, which did not differ. However, fecundity of giant foxtail was 200% greater in the ST/R treatment than in the other three treatments because of suppressed early corn growth. The net effect of the ST/R treatment on giant foxtail demography in corn was to greatly increase inputs to the seedbank compared with the ST/W, FT/W, and FT/R treatments. Giant foxtail demography in the wheat phase was also affected by Red clover. There was a 200% increase in daily rates of postdispersal seed predation in the wheat phase of the R treatment compared with the W treatment. High-seed predation in the wheat phase and low fecundity in the corn phase of the FT/R treatment suggest that population growth rate of giant foxtail will be lower in this treatment than in the other treatments. The degree of soil phytotoxicity from red clover residues, the changes in the amount of interference from the corn crop early in the growing season, and the differential suitability of crop residues in the different rotations as habitat for seed predators all contributed to changes in giant foxtail demography. Understanding the effects of cropping system characteristics on entire weed life cycles will facilitate the design of integrated suites of complementary weed management tactics.
Nomenclature: Giant foxtail, Setaria faberi Herrm. SETFA; corn, Zea mays L. ‘Pioneer 3512’; red clover, Trifolium pratense L. ‘Cherokee’; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr. ‘IA 2039’; spring wheat, Triticum aestivum L. ‘Sharp’.