Western Australian growers are adopting no-tillage farming systems, which have a greater reliance on integrated weed management systems that include competitive cultivars, high seeding rates, strategic fertilizer placement, and narrow row spacing. At the same time, they are sowing more of their barley area to cultivars with a semidwarf habit. This study compared six two-row, spring malting barley cultivars with different morphological traits at two dates of planting and three crop densities, with nil-added and added rigid ryegrass at five sites. Four cultivars, ‘Buloke’, ‘Flagship’, ‘Hamelin’, and ‘Vlamingh’, had an erect early growth habit; the other two, ‘Baudin’ and ‘Gairdner’, had a prostrate, semidwarf early growth habit. Increasing the density of rigid ryegrass plants from 16 to 125 plants/m2 decreased barley grain yield by reducing crop biomass production, tiller number, grain number, and harvest index. Average grain weight was also reduced at most sites. The impact of competition on grain yield varied across sites and cultivars, but did not interact with date of planting. Baudin, Flagship, and Hamelin were more competitive with rigid ryegrass than Buloke, Gairdner, and Vlamingh. Differences in competitiveness between cultivars did not appear to be strongly related to morphological traits that affect light interception such as canopy closure, plant height, and tiller number. Differences in cultivar competitiveness were cultivar-specific and not generic. Rigid ryegrass productivity (dry matter and tiller number) tended to be lower under the more competitive cultivars. Increasing barley plant density increased grain yield, and reduced both rigid ryegrass dry matter and tiller number. Barley density had a larger impact on rigid ryegrass productivity than crop cultivar. The impact of barley density on reducing rigid ryegrass tiller number was larger with the first planting date than the second, and higher in the added rigid ryegrass plots than the nil-added plots. This study highlights the importance of high barley seeding rate for the integrated management of rigid ryegrass.
Nomenclature: Rigid ryegrass, Lolium rigidum Gaudin ‘Safeguard’ LOLRI; barley, Hordeum vulgare L. ‘Baudin’, ‘Buloke’, ‘Flagship’, ‘Gairdner’, ‘Hamelin’, and ‘Vlamingh’