Yellow bristle grass (Setaria pumila) and summer grass (Digitaria sanguinalis) are summer-active annual grass weeds which infest temperate dairy pastures. A study was undertaken over 2 years to compare hand-sown yellow bristle and summer grass establishment, survival, and seed production in pastures grazed by dairy cows and based on (i) tetraploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), (ii) tetraploid perennial ryegrass and white clover (Trifolium repens), and (iii) tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and white clover, to determine which pasture type offered the greatest resistance to these grass weeds. Ingress of grass weeds was similar in all three pasture types. Total dry matter production was similar for all pasture types for the first year and lower in tall fescue clover than perennial ryegrass pasture in the second year. All pasture types had a similar distribution of microsite types (bare ground ± canopy, basal cover ± canopy) in both years. The annual grass weeds were most prevalent in bare ground canopy microsites, which were also the most frequent of the four microsite types. In the first year, <5% of microsites were occupied within 2 months of sowing, whereas in the second year, microsite occupation remained >13% for all assessments. In the first year, panicle production of yellow bristle and summer grass was similar (averaging 4.1 panicles plant–1); in the second year, panicle production was greater for summer grass (0.80 v. 0.16 panicles plant–1, respectively). Where present, these annual grass weeds are likely to spread in dryland dairy pastures sown with either perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. Variability in their panicle production between years shows how their impact on pasture performance and consequent need for control measures will also vary from year to year.
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Vol. 63 • No. 10