Wild oat is a serious weed in cultivated oat because there are no herbicides to selectively control it. Considering the effect of time of emergence on weed–crop interference is critical for the development of accurate crop yield loss models and weed density thresholds. Therefore, field experiments were conducted at two locations in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2002 and 2003 to determine the effect of wild oat density and time of emergence on cultivated oat yield and quality. Wild oat was planted at 50 growing degree day (GDD) intervals ranging from 100 GDD before to 100 GDD after crop planting. Wild oat density ranged from 0 to 320 plants m−2. High densities of early emerging wild oat greatly reduced cultivated oat yield and increased wild oat contamination, with observed oat yield losses as great as 70% and wild oat contamination levels of 15%. Wild oat that emerged before cultivated oat caused considerably more yield and quality loss and had higher reproductive output than wild oat that emerged after cultivated oat. The yield loss caused by individual wild oat plants at low densities (parameter I) ranged from 0.40 to 0.49%. The effect of relative time of wild oat emergence (parameter C) always varied significantly between site-years. However, little variation in absolute values within site-years was observed for cultivated oat yield loss, wild oat seed production, and wild oat contamination, suggesting that relative time of wild oat emergence influences all similarly. The results of this study emphasize both the need to control early emerging wild oat, as well as the importance of time of emergence in the prediction of crop yield loss. Furthermore, our approach of conducting an emergence study based on thermal time is novel and demonstrates a robust, mechanistic method of estimating crop yield losses due to relative time of emergence.
Nomenclature: Wild oat, Avena fatua L. AVEFA; oat, Avena sativa L. ‘AC Assiniboia’.