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  • Author or Editor: Lynn Marie Sosnoskie* x
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Community composition of the soil seedbank were characterized 35 years after the implementation of a long-term study involving cropping sequences (continuous corn, corn-soybean, corn-oat-hay) and tillage systems (conventional-, minimum- and no-tillage). Germinable seeds within the top 10 cm of soil in early spring were identified and enumerated in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Species diversity, which was characterized by richness (S), evenness (E) and the Shannon-Weiner index (H'), was significantly influenced by crop rotation rather than tillage. Generally, diversity measures were greatest in the corn-oat-hay sequences as compared to the corn-soybean rotations and the corn monoculture. Species richness and H' typically declined with increasing soil disturbance (no-tillage > minimum-tillage > conventional-tillage), whereas E increased with more intense tillage. A synthetic importance value (RI), incorporating both density and frequency measures, was generated for each species in each plot. Multiresponse permutation procedures (MRPP) were used to examine differences in weed community composition with respect to management system for all three years. Results suggest that the weed seed community in a corn-oat-hay rotational system differs substantially, in structure and composition, from communities associated with continuous corn and corn-soybean systems. No tillage systems were significantly different in composition as compared to conventional tillage and minimum tillage treatments. Crop sequence and tillage system are important cultural methods of shifting weed species number and diversity, and therefore, community structure. Manipulation of these factors could help to reduce the negative impact of weeds on crop production.

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Our lab characterized the growth and development of 83 velvetleaf accessions, collected from locations in Asia, India, Europe, Eastern Africa and North America, to test the hypothesis that two biotypes (“crop” and “weedy”) exist and are easily differentiated. Measurements taken to gauge morphological and phenological variability include: initial seed weight, stem height at 3, 7, and 11 weeks, leaf size at 3, 7, and 11 weeks, stem and petiole color, time to flowering, time to first capsule maturity, stem height at flowering, height to first mature capsule, basal stem diameter, number of capsules, and capsule size and color. Analyses indicate that accessions producing yellow-colored seed capsules were taller, produced fewer nodes, and were longer-lived than their brown-colored counterparts. This finding supports previous assertions that the yellow-colored varieties were originally selected for use as a fiber crop: i.e., increased stem yield resulted in longer lengths of lignified tissue. The accessions producing brown-colored capsules exhibited greater reproductive output, as measured by the number of capsules and the number of seed-containing valves per capsule, a desirable trait for weedy species. Using capsule color as an independent variable, Discriminant Analysis was able to correctly classify 96% of the observations by the remaining characters, further affirming that the yellow- and brown-capsuled accessions varied, significantly, with respect to their morphology and phenology. Velvetleaf is believed to have originated in China, where it was eventually domesticated. Early records suggest that velvetleaf, a noxious weed in modern agricultural production, was introduced to colonial America to serve as a fiber source for the burgeoning rope-making industry.

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