Weed growth and N assimilation usually increase with N application rate. With the increasing price of N fertilizer, a better understanding N assimilation by weeds is necessary to maximize economic return. Total plant yield is generally independent of population density, except when plants are very small or at very low population density. If plant yield is independent of population density, weed N assimilation may also be independent of population density. However, the effect of weed population density on N assimilation has not been thoroughly investigated. A 2011 controlled-environment study was established in East Lansing, MI, to evaluate the effect of weed population density and N application rate on growth and N assimilation by common lambsquarters and redroot pigweed. Study factors included four weed densities (1, 2, 4, and 8 plants pot−1), three N application rates (0, 67, and 134 kg N ha−1), and two weed species (redroot pigweed and common lambsquarters). Weeds were destructively harvested 3 wk after emergence, and shoot height, biomass, total N concentration, N use efficiency, and N assimilation were measured. Redroot pigweed was taller, had greater shoot biomass, and a greater shoot N assimilation than did common lambsquarters. With similar environmental conditions, redroot pigweed is expected to be more competitive than common lambsquarters. Shoot N assimilation increased with increasing weed population density, indicating that N assimilation was not independent of population density 3 wk after emergence because weeds were small or at low population density.
Nomenclature: Common lambsquarters, Chenopodium album L. CHEAL; redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus L. AMARE