The development of competitive cropping systems could minimize the negative effects of wild oat competition on cereal grain yield, and in the process, help augment herbicide use. A 3-yr field experiment was conducted at Kalispell, MT, to investigate the effects of spring wheat seed size and seeding rate on wheat spike production, biomass, and grain yield under a range of wild oat densities. Wheat plant density, spikes, biomass, and yield all increased as seed size and seeding rates increased. Averaged across all other factors, the use of higher seeding rates and larger seed sizes improved yields by 12 and 18%, respectively. Accordingly, grain yield was more highly correlated with seed size than with seeding rate effects. However, the combined use of both tactics resulted in a more competitive cropping system, improving grain yields by 30%. Seeding rate effects were related to spike production, whereas seed size effects were related to biomass production. As such, plants derived from large seed appear to have greater vigor and are able to acquire a larger share of plant growth factors relative to plants derived from small seed.
Nomenclature: Wild oat, Avena fatua L. AVEFA; wheat, Triticum aestivum L. ‘McNeal’.