Narrow rows reduce biomass and seed production of weeds and increase maize yield
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Quote:Abstract
Smallholder farmers in southern African countries rely primarily on cultural control and hoe weeding to combat weeds, but often times, they are unable to keep up with the weeding requirements of the crop because of its laboriousness, causing them to incur major yield losses. Optimisation of crop planting pattern could help to increase yield and suppress weeds and to reduce the critical period of weed control and the weeding requirements to attain maximum yield. Experiments were carried out in Zimbabwe during two growing seasons to assess the effect of maize density and spatial arrangement on crop yield, growth and seed production of weeds and to determine the critical period for weeding. Planting maize at 60 cm row distance achieved higher yields and better weed suppression than planting at 75 or 90 cm row distance. Increasing crop densities beyond the customary three to four plants m−2 gave modest reductions in weed biomass but also diminished crop yields, probably because of increased competition for water and nutrient resources. Maize planted in narrow rows (60 cm) intercepted more radiation and suffered less yield reduction from delaying hoe weeding than those planted in wider rows (75 or 90 cm), and the duration of the weed-free period required to attain maximum grain yield was 3 weeks shorter in the narrow spacing than that in the 75- and 90-cm row spacings. Weeding was more effective in curtailing weed seed production in the narrow row spatial arrangements than in the wide row planting. The results of these studies show that narrow row spacings may reduce weeding requirements and increase yields.

Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-7348.2009.00331.x/abstract
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