Information on nitrogen fertilizer effects on crop–weed competitive interactions might aid in developing improved weed management programs. A controlled environment study was conducted to examine the effect of three N rates on the competitive ability of four weed species grown with wheat. The four weed species were chosen to represent species that varied in their growth responsiveness to nitrogen (N): Persian darnel (low), Russian thistle (low), redroot pigweed (high), and wild oat (high). Wheat and each weed species were grown in a replacement series design at N rates of 60, 120, and 240 mg N kg−1 soil. The competitive ability of the low N-responsive species, Persian darnel and Russian thistle, was not influenced by N rate, supporting our hypothesis that N rate would have little effect on the competitiveness of species responding minimally to N. Conversely, the competitiveness of the high N-responsive species redroot pigweed progressively improved as N rate increased. However, wild oat competitiveness was unaffected by N fertilizer rate. There is some evidence from this study to suggest that fertilizer management strategies that favor crops over weeds deserve greater attention when weed infestations consist of species known to be highly responsive to higher soil N levels. Information gained in this study will be used to advise farmers of the importance of strategic fertilizer management in terms of both weed management and crop yield.
Nomenclature: Redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus L. AMARE; wild oat, Avena fatua L. AVEFA; Persian darnel, Lolium persicum Boiss. & Hohen. ex Boiss. LOLPS; wild mustard, Sinapis arvensis L. SINAR; wheat, Triticum aestivum L. ‘AC Barrie’.