Palmer amaranth is a troublesome weed in cotton production. Yield losses of 65% have been reported from season-long Palmer amaranth competition with cotton. To determine whether water is a factor in this system, experiments were conduced in 2011, 2012, and 2013 in Citra, FL, and in Tifton, GA. In 2011, infrequent rainfall lead to drought stress. The presence of Palmer amaranth resulted in decreased soil relative water content up to 1 m in depth. Cotton stomatal conductance (gs) was reduced up to 1.8 m from a Palmer amaranth plant. In 2012 and 2013 higher than average rainfall resulted in excess water throughout the growing season. In this situation, no differences were found in soil relative water content or cotton gs as a function of proximity to Palmer amaranth. A positive linear trend was found in cotton photosynthesis and yield; each parameter increased as distance from Palmer amaranth increased. Even in these well-watered conditions, daily water use of Palmer amaranth was considerably higher than that of cotton, at 1.2 and 0.49 g H20 cm−2 d−1, respectively. Although Palmer amaranth removed more water from the soil profile, rainfall was adequate to replenish the profile in 2 of the 3 yr of this study. However, yield loss due to Palmer amaranth was still observed despite no change in gs, indicating other factors, such as competition for light or response to neighboring plants during development, are driving yield loss.
Nomenclature: Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri S. Wats.; cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L.