Downy brome in dryland winter wheat presents a major constraint to the adoption of reduced tillage cropping systems in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Effective suppression of downy brome during fallow periods depletes seed in the soil and reduces infestations in subsequent winter wheat crops. Delayed tillage operations or delayed herbicide applications in the spring increase the risk for production of viable downy brome seed during fallow periods. In a series of studies, downy brome panicles were sequentially sampled at Pendleton, OR, and Pullman, WA, in 1996 and 1997, and at nine locations around the winter wheat growing region of the western United States in 1999 and 2001. Cumulative growing degree days (GDD) were calculated using local, daily maximum, and minimum air temperature data. A simple GDD model based on the formula GDD = (daily maximum temperature [C] daily minimum temperature [C])/2, with a base temperature of 0 C and a starting point of January 1, was used to calculate cumulative GDD values for panicle sampling dates. Number of seed germinating per collected panicle was recorded in greenhouse germination tests. Estimations of degree days required for production of viable downy brome seed were made using nonlinear regression of germination on GDD. The GDD value at which viable seed can be found on plants (i.e., when seed germination > 0) was of interest. Estimates of the GDD values at which viable seed could be found in the three studies ranged from 582 GDD at Bozeman, MT, to 1,287 GDD at Stillwater, OK, with a group of GDD values for Pendleton and Pullman around 1,000. Variation in seed-set GDD among locations may be attributed to differing climatic conditions that control vernalization at the various locations or to differences in vernalization requirements among downy brome biotypes (or both).
Nomenclature: Downy brome, Bromus tectorum L. BROTE; winter wheat, Triticum aestivum L. TRZAW.