Wild oat causes more crop yield losses and accounts for more herbicide expenditures than any other weed species on the Canadian Prairies. A study was conducted from 2001 to 2005 at four Canadian Prairie locations to determine the influence of repeated cultural and herbicidal management practices on wild oat population density, biomass, and seed production, and on barley biomass and seed yield. Short or tall cultivars of barley were combined with normal or double barley seeding rates in continuous barley or a barley–canola–barley–field-pea rotation under three herbicide rate regimes. The same herbicide rate regime was applied to the same plots in all crops each year. In barley, cultivar type and seeding rate were also repeated on the same plots year after year. Optimal cultural practices (tall cultivars, double seeding rates, and crop rotation) reduced wild oat emergence, biomass, and seed production, and increased barley biomass and seed yield, especially at low herbicide rates. Wild oat seed production at the quarter herbicide rate was reduced by 91, 95, and 97% in 2001, 2003, and 2005, respectively, when tall barley cultivars at double seeding rates were rotated with canola and field pea (high management) compared to short barley cultivars at normal seeding rates continuously planted to barley (low management). Combinations of favorable cultural practices interacted synergistically to reduce wild oat emergence, biomass and seed production, and to increase barley yield. For example, at the quarter herbicide rate, wild oat biomass was reduced 2- to 3-, 6- to 7-, or 19-fold when optimal single, double, or triple treatments were combined, respectively. Barley yield reductions in the low-management scenario were somewhat compensated for by full herbicide rates. However, high management at low herbicide rates often produced more barley than low management in higher herbicide rate regimes.
Nomenclature: Wild oat, Avena fatua L.; barley, Hordeum vulgare L.; canola, Brassica napus L.; field pea, Pisum sativum L.