Itchgrass [Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) W.D. Clayton] is among the most troublesome weeds in subtropical climates where sugarcane (Saccharum spp. interspecific hybrids) is cultivated. Two R. cochinchinensis biotypes commonly infest sugarcane in Louisiana. The Louisiana-1 biotype is daylength neutral, but Louisiana-2 flowered when daylength decreased to 13 h. Coupled with biotype diversity, seedling emergence has been reported to occur earlier in the growing season, as sugarcane emerged from winter dormancy. Both R. cochinchinensis biotypes were established in a common garden experiment in Louisiana during periods of sugarcane development and field preparation to simulate discontinuous emergence. Plant height and raceme production were recorded weekly for each biotype and establishment timing; above-ground biomass was harvested in autumn. Louisiana's subtropical humid climate stimulated rapid plant growth that typically began in May and persisted through September. Without sugarcane competition, maximum R. cochinchinensis heights for Louisiana-1 and Louisiana-2 were 206 and 179 cm and growing degree days to 20-cm height in 2017 ranged from 546 to 832 and 865 to 1,160, respectively. Slower initial growth reported with Louisiana-2 would allow more time for growers to treat escaped plants with POST herbicides. Total raceme production, by autumn, was zero for Louisiana-2 established in June or later, but Louisiana-1 established in June produced up to 202 racemes. The present study demonstrated the importance of managing the Louisiana-2 biotype in March and April to limit seed production, but fields infested with Louisiana-1 were at greater risk for potential crop yield loss, because plants produced high quantities of seed when established over a wide period of time.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4