The University of Arizona

Effect of weed seed rate and grass defoliation level on diffuse knapweed.

R.L. Sheley, B.E. Olson, L.L. Larson


Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa Lam.), an invasive weed, has reduced forage production and biodiversity, and increased soil erosion on over a million hectares of rangeland in the western United States. This study evaluated the effects of a single grass defoliation on establishment of diffuse knapweed seeded at 2 rates into a bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata [Pursh.] Scribn and Smith)/needle-and-thread (Stipa comata Trin. &Rupr.) community and a crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.) community. Six defoliation levels (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100%) and 2 seeding rates (3,000, 6,000 diffuse knapweed seeds) were applied to 1 m2 plots in a randomized-complete-block design (n=4). Diffuse knapweed was seeded in the fall of 1992, and grasses were defoliated on 28 April 1993. The number of flowering culms and weed seedlings were counted in September 1993. Densities of diffuse knapweed seedlings, juveniles, and adults, as well as plant standing crop, were determined in May 1994. Seed rate had minimal effect on diffuse knapweed density. By May 1994, densities of diffuse knapweed were about 20 and 30 plants m-2 on undefoliated bluebunch wheatgrass and crested wheatgrass plots, respectively, indicating that defoliation is not required for this noxious weed to become established. Higher levels of grass defoliation (>60%), especially of bluebunch wheatgrass, enhanced diffuse knapweed establishment, indicating that moderate (<60%) defoliation would not necessarily accelerate invasion by diffuse knapweed.


Hesperostipa comata;Centaurea diffusa;wind;Pseudoroegneria spicata;sowing;crop-weed competition;ambient temperature;invasion;Agropyron cristatum;rain;Washington;biomass;range management;defoliation

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