Prevalence of wild oat (Avena fatua L.) and sterile oat [Avena sterilis ssp. ludoviciana (Durieu) Gillet & Magne; referred to as A. sterilis hereafter], winter-season weeds, is increasing in the eastern grain region of Australia. Biological attributes of these weeds enable them to survive in a wide range of environments and under different weed infestation levels. The interference of A. fatua and A. sterilis in a wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crop was examined in southeast Queensland, Australia, through field studies in 2019 and 2020. Different infestation levels (0, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 plants m–2) of A. fatua and A. sterilis were evaluated for their potential to cause yield losses in wheat. Based on a three-parameter logarithmic model, the A. fatua and A. sterilis infestation levels corresponding to 50% wheat yield loss were 15 and 16 plants m–2, respectively. The yield reduction was due to a reduced spike number per unit area because of an increased weed infestation level. At the highest weed infestation level (48 plants m–2), A. fatua and A. sterilis produced a maximum of 4,800 and 3,970 seeds m–2, respectively. Avena fatua exhibited lower seed retention (17% to 39%) than A. sterilis (64% to 80%) at wheat harvest, as most of the seeds of A. fatua had shattered at crop maturity. Our results implied that there is a good opportunity for harvest weed seed control if the paddock is infested with A. sterilis. This study suggests that in the absence of an integrated weed management strategy (using both chemical and nonchemical options), a high infestation of these weeds could cause a severe crop yield loss, increase weed seed production, and replenish the weed seedbank in the soil.
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Vol. 69 • No. 4