The noxious weed Benghal dayflower has become a severely troublesome agricultural weed in Georgia in the southeastern Unite States, and there are indications that it is moving northward. Benghal dayflower is glyphosate tolerant and possesses a high degree of reproductive elasticity, making it a formidable threat in many crop systems. The purpose of these experiments was to develop the first temperature response profiles for Benghal dayflower, and use them to evaluate whether temperature might limit its northward invasion into North Carolina and adjacent states on the U.S. east coast. Experiments focused on vegetative and early reproductive growth, stages considered crucial for establishment and competitiveness. Exposure to a range of aerial temperatures revealed that Benghal dayflower growth and production of aerial and subterranean reproductive structures were maximized at 30 C, with sharp declines occurring at cooler temperatures. When exposed to differing root temperatures in hydroponics, with a constant aerial temperature, Benghal dayflower growth did not show the same cool temperature sensitivity, but reproductive performance declined when temperatures decreased below about 29 C. The root temperature responses of several other weed species known to thrive in the climate of this geographic area also were determined. Growth of sicklepod, hemp sesbania, and jimsonweed was more sensitive than Benghal dayflower to cool temperatures, whereas the growth response of velvetleaf was similar. Based on the comparison of the Benghal dayflower temperature responses in controlled environments to (1) seasonal air and soil temperatures in the field, and (2) the temperature responses of agronomic weeds known to thrive in the region, it is concluded that cool temperatures will not restrain the northward spread of Benghal dayflower into North Carolina.
Nomenclature: Benghal dayflower, Commelina benghalensis L. COMBE; hemp sesbania, Sesbania herbacea (P. Mill.) McVaugh SEBEX; jimsonweed, Datura stramonium L. DATST; sicklepod, Senna obtusifolia (L.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby CASOB; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medik. ABUTH.