Modification of the cropping environment to make weed seed more susceptible to fatal germination or decay processes is based, in part, on the premise that seed longevity is affected by the crop-influenced environment in which seed is produced, hereafter, called the maternal crop environment. The objective of this investigation was to determine the influence of maternal crop environment on wild-proso millet seed production, germinability, and seed coat tone (i.e., lightness), a trait previously associated with seed longevity in wild-proso millet. Maternal corn environments were established by growing wild-proso millet plants in four morphologically different sweet corn hybrids in four replicates over 2 yr. Wild-proso millet seed was collected at sweet corn harvest, enumerated, characterized for seed coat tone, and tested for germination. Principal component factor analysis reduced six sweet corn traits measured between silking and harvest into a single maternal corn environment factor that accounted for 84% of the variation among crop canopies. Functional relationships between maternal corn environment factor scores and wild-proso millet seed characteristics were clarified by fitting linear models. For each unit decrease in maternal environment factor score, wild-proso millet seed production increased 1,535 seed m−2, germination increased 2.2%, and seed coat tone was 1.8% lighter. These results show the size and germinability of wild-proso millet seed was highest in less-competitive maternal corn environments characterized by a short time to crop maturity and a small crop-canopy size.
Nomenclature: Wild-proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L., PANMI; sweet corn, Zea mays L.