The dynamics of soil seed banks in crop rotations of corn, soybean, and winter wheat were investigated to determine whether weed seed inputs associated with the winter wheat phases of the rotation were present in the readily germinable fraction of the seed bank in subsequent phases. Two studies were conducted, each in chisel-plowed systems. In one study, we compared seed banks in plots after 8 yr of corn grown continuously and with rotation that included winter wheat and soybean. A second study followed seed bank composition and abundance for 3 yr in plots that were planted to corn and soybean in successive years after planting to winter wheat. Seed banks were measured by direct germination in a heated greenhouse. In the first study, seed banks in plots planted to continuous corn (never planted to winter wheat) and the corn phase of the rotation (winter wheat planted 3 yr earlier) did not differ in species composition or abundance despite significant differences in seed banks in plots that had been planted to winter wheat the previous season. In the second study, seed bank abundance and composition in plots planted to winter wheat in 2001 rapidly changed after planting of corn and soybean in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Data from the two experiments suggest that seed banks in annual row crops experience rapid change in composition and abundance and can be strongly influenced by the most recent crop. This could limit our ability to infer longer term trends associated with changes in management practices from studies of soil seed banks.
Nomenclature: Corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.; winter wheat, Triticum aestivum L.