Effect of degree of water stress on growth and fecundity of velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) using soil moisture sensors

Jasmine Mausbach, Suat Irmak, Parminder Chahal, Debalin Sarangi, Amit J. Jhala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti Medik.) is a troublesome broadleaf weed that competes with crops for resources such as soil moisture. Water stress can affect the ability of weed species to grow and produce seeds. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of degree of water stress on the growth and fecundity of A. threophrasti using soil moisture sensors under greenhouse conditions. Abutilon threophrasti seeds collected from a corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] field were grown in silty clay loam soil, and plants were maintained at 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25% soil field capacity (FC) corresponding to no, light, moderate, and high water-stress conditions, respectively. Water was added daily to pots based on soil moisture levels detected by a Meter Group 5TM sensor to maintain the desired water-stress level required by treatment. Plants maintained at 100% FC had the maximum number of leaves (28 leaves plant-1), followed by 21 and 15 leaves plant-1 at 75% and 50% FC, respectively. Abutilon threophrasti at 100% and 75% FC achieved maximum plant height (108 to 123 cm) compared with 83 cm at 50% FC. Abutilon threophrasti maintained at 75% FC had the greatest growth index (79,907 cm3) followed by 72,197 cm3 at 100% FC and 64,256 cm3 at 50% FC. Seed production was similar at 100%, 75%, and 50% FC (288 to 453 seeds plant-1) compared with 2 seeds plant-1 at 25% FC. This is because the majority of plants maintained at 25% FC did not survive more than 77 d after transplanting. Seed germination was 96% to 100% at 100%, 75%, and 50% FC compared with 20% germination at 25% FC. Abutilon threophrasti can survive ≥50% FC continuous water-stress conditions, although with reduced leaf number, plant height, and growth index compared with 75% and 100% FC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-705
Number of pages8
JournalWeed Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 26 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Field capacity
  • frequency-domain reflectometry sensor
  • growth index
  • plant height
  • seed production
  • seed viability


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