Velvetleaf has been a major concern of Southern cotton growers, yet information on its competitiveness and seed production in cotton is lacking. Experiments were conducted in 1997 and 1998 at the Central Crops Research Station in Clayton, NC, to evaluate density-dependent effects of velvetleaf interference and seed production dynamics in conventional tillage cotton. Velvetleaf at densities of up to 3.5 plants m−1 of row did not influence cotton height until at least 4 wk after planting. Velvetleaf height increased as plant density increased throughout the season in 1997, but it was not affected until 9 wk after planting in 1998. Because of differences in environmental conditions, velvetleaf and cotton achieved maximum height later in 1998 than in 1997; however, velvetleaf seed production and cotton yields were higher in 1998 than in 1997 regardless of velvetleaf density. Velvetleaf density had no effect on the fresh weight, dry weight, and stem diameter of velvetleaf plants in 1997. But in 1998, all these parameters decreased significantly with increasing velvetleaf density. Velvetleaf seed production in 1998 was nearly twice that in 1997. Averaged over velvetleaf densities, the greatest number of seed were produced between nodes 6 and 20 in 1997 and between nodes 1 and 10 in 1998. In both years, cotton yield loss increased with velvetleaf density. Maximum yield loss was 84% at 3.5 velvetleaf plants m−1 of row. Yield losses of 5 and 10% were caused by 0.2 and 0.4 velvetleaf plants m−1 of row (1,930 and 4,110 plants ha−1), respectively, in 1997 and by 0.03 and 0.08 velvetleaf plants m−1 of row (360 and 850 plants ha−1), respectively, in 1998. To understand better the applicability of these results, we hypothesized that environmental variation caused differences in measured responses between 1997 and 1998. Therefore, kriging methods were used to fit correlations between observed rainfall and growing degree days (GDD) each year at the experiment site. Results based on climate data from 4 yr at 110 sites indicated that inference space was higher for GDD than for rainfall. The conditions observed at the experiment site in 1997 were deemed most appropriate for the recommendations made in the surrounding area.
Nomenclature: Velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medicus ABUTH; cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. ‘Stoneville BXN 47‘ and ‘Deltapine 51’.