Natural dissemination of johnsongrass seeds as well as the effect of combine harvesting on this process were studied in corn fields. The estimation of natural dispersal was carried out by two different methods, collecting seeds throughout the season using seed traps and sampling soil–surface seed abundance before harvest using a vacuum device. Both methods showed the same dispersal pattern. A minimum of 84.6% was dispersed in the first 2 m from the focus and a maximum of 1.6% was dispersed beyond the first 5 m. An average of 76.3% of these dispersed seeds were lost or buried after shedding but before harvest. Seed dispersal by the combine harvester was estimated from the difference between soil–surface seed abundance in the same sites pre and postharvest. Although the quantity of seeds dispersed by the combine was similar to those dispersed by natural factors, dispersal distances were significantly higher. Around 90% of the dispersed seeds were found in the first 5 m forward and backward of the combine direction from the infestation source, and 1.6% of the seeds were found beyond 22 m forward and 10 m backward of the combine direction from the infestation source. A large proportion of the seeds dispersed were dormant or not viable. It is concluded that the major role of sexual reproduction in johnsongrass population dynamics may be to spread the risks, promoting dispersal in time and space.
Nomenclature: Johnsongrass, Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers. SORHA; corn, Zea mays L.