Dryland rotations are changing in the semiarid Great Plains because of no-till systems. Producers now rotate summer annual crops such as corn with winter wheat and fallow, which can disrupt weed population growth because of diverse life cycles among crops. This study estimated changes in weed populations as affected by rotation design, with the goal of suggesting crop sequences that lower weed community density. We used an empirical life-cycle simulation based on demographics of jointed goatgrass and green foxtail to compare various rotations consisting of winter wheat, corn, proso millet, and fallow across a 12-yr period. The simulation indicated that designing rotations to include a 2-yr interval when seed production of either jointed goatgrass or green foxtail is prevented will drastically reduce weed populations. Arranging four different crops in sequences of two cool-season crops, followed by two warm-season crops was the most beneficial for weed management. Fallow, if used, serves in either life-cycle category. However, if the same crop is grown 2 yr in a row, such as winter wheat, the benefit of rotation design on weed density is reduced considerably. Impact of rotation design on weed density was enhanced by improving crop competitiveness with cultural practices. Rotations with balanced life-cycle intervals not only reduce weed density but enable producers to use alternative weed management strategies, improve effectiveness of herbicides used, and minimize herbicide resistance.
Nomenclature: Green foxtail, Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv. #3 SETVI; jointed goatgrass, Aegilops cylindrica Host. # AEGCY; corn, Zea mays L.; proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L.; winter wheat, Triticum aestivum L.
Additional index words: AEGCY, frequency of seed production, life-cycle simulation, seed bank, SETVI, weed community density.
Abbreviations: C, corn crop rotation; F, fallow crop rotation; M, proso millet crop rotation; W, winter wheat crop rotation.