At the time of grain harvest, weed seeds can be classed into one of four pools on the basis of dispersal status and location: (1) undispersed, remaining on the mother plant; (2) dispersed in the current year, on the soil surface; (3) dispersed in the current year and collected by harvest machinery; and (4) dispersed in a previous year and persisting within the soil seed bank. Knowledge of the relative sizes of these seed pools for different weed species under different crop environments will be useful for determining the best way to reduce the size of inputs to the soil seed bank. In fall 2004 and fall 2005, four randomly selected commercially managed corn and soybean fields in east-central Illinois were sampled to quantify weed seed pools at time of crop harvest. Thirty randomly located 0.125-m2 quadrats were placed within each field, the four seed pools mentioned above were sampled for each quadrat, and the species composition and abundance of each seed pool was determined. The magnitude of the weed seed rain varied among species and between years and crops. Twenty-six weed species were found to contribute to at least one of the four seed pools. However, the weed seed pools were consistently dominated by six species: velvetleaf, Amaranthus complex (redroot pigweed and waterhemp), ivyleaf morningglory, giant foxtail, prickly sida, and common cocklebur. For each of these species, the ratio of undispersed seeds to seeds in the soil seed bank at harvest time was ≥ 1 in at least one crop during one of the two experimental years, indicating a potential for the soil seed bank to be completely replenished or augmented by that year's seed rain. This analysis demonstrates the urgent need for techniques to limit weed seed inputs to the soil seed bank at the end of the growing season.
Nomenclature: Common cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium L. XANST; common waterhemp, Amaranthus rudis Sauer AMATA; giant foxtail, Setaria faberi Herrm. SETFA; ivyleaf morningglory, Ipomoea hederacea (L.) Jacq. IPOHE; prickly sida, Sida spinosa L. SIDSP; redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus L. AMARE; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medik. ABUTH; corn, Zea mays L; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.