3 years ago

Yield and competitive ability in potato cultivars characterised by different developmental timing

A Cavalieri, R Paolini, C Mirabelli
Potato is very susceptible to weed interference during the early growth stages due to slow emergence, and again at the end of the growing cycle when branches collapse and the canopy opens. Weed control usually is performed through a combination of physical and chemical methods. A growing concern for the environment and human health has encouraged the development of non-chemical weed control. We evaluated the effects of an integrated weed management strategy consisting of physical and cultural methods on naturally emerging weeds over two field seasons in central Italy. One harrowing plus one hilling operation were conducted during the early crop stages, and the competitive abilities against late emerging weeds of six different cultivars of potato, characterised by differences in developmental timing and growth habit, were evaluated. Two measures of competition were evaluated, the competitive balance index (Cb) and the relative total biomass of crop and weed. Higher competitive ability (Cb) was associated with traits such as fast early above-ground biomass production, height and final above-ground biomass. Medium late maturity cultivars showed higher Cb than earlier ones, but this was associated with lower yield, providing evidence for a trade-off between competitive ability and yield. The trade-off was in part biased by the lack of adaptation of the medium late cultivars to hot weather conditions, so we concluded that cultivars characterised by different developmental time need to be screened and tested for local systems.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/wre.12293

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