The inclusion of competitive crop cultivars in crop rotations is an important integrated weed management (IWM) tool. However, competitiveness is often not considered a priority for breeding or cultivar selection by growers. Field pea (Pisum sativum L.) is often considered a poor competitor with weeds, but it is not known whether competitiveness varies among semileafless cultivars. The objectives of this study were to determine if semileafless field pea cultivars vary in their ability to compete and/or withstand competition, as well as to identify aboveground trait(s) that may be associated with increased competitive ability. Field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at three locations in western Canada. Fourteen semileafless field pea cultivars were included in the study representing four different market classes. Cultivars were grown either in the presence or absence of model weeds (wheat and canola), and competitive ability of the cultivars was determined based on their ability to withstand competition (AWC) and their ability to compete (AC). Crop yield, weed biomass and weed fecundity varied among sites but not years. Cultivars exhibited inconsistent differences in competitive ability, although cv. Reward consistently exhibited the lowest AC and AWC. None of the traits measured in this study correlated highly with competitive ability. However, the highest-yielding cultivars generally were those that had the highest AC, whereas cultivars that ranked highest for AWC were associated with lower weed fecundity. Ranking the competitive ability of field pea cultivars could be an important IWM tool for growers and agronomists.
Nomenclature: Field pea, Pisum sativum L.