Field studies compared the grain yield of four two-row spring barley cultivars at four sites when sown at two-row spacing in competition with two densities of rigid ryegrass. The sites chosen had low background populations of rigid ryegrass. Although the four cultivars sown differed in their grain yield, row spacing did not influence cultivar performance. Doubling the row spacing decreased barley grain yield at three of the four sites. The impact of row spacing on grain yield was more noticeable when doubled to 48 or 50 cm compared with 36 cm. Rigid ryegrass competition reduced barley grain yield at two of the four sites. At both locations the influence of weed competition on barley grain yield was the same at both narrow and wide row spacing and at one location the impact of weed competition was modified by cultivar. Planting barley in wide rows was found to favor rigid ryegrass production through an increase in both rigid ryegrass biomass production and tiller number. The development of farming systems for barley on the basis of a row spacing greater than 25 cm is likely to be associated with an increase in weed productivity unless good integrated weed management principles are implemented. Modifications to the current system may allow an increase in row spacing without any yield loss or increased weed seed set.
Nomenclature: Rigid ryegrass, Lolium rigidum Gaudin LOLRI ‘Safeguard’; barley, Hordeum vulgare L. ‘Baudin’, ‘Dash’, ‘Gairdner’, and ‘Vlamingh’.