Weed escapes are often present in large production fields prior to harvest, contributing to seed rain and species persistence. Late-season surveys were conducted in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fields in Texas in 2016 and 2017 to identify common weed species present as escapes and estimate seed rain potential of Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson) and waterhemp [A. tuberculatus (Moq.) J.D. Sauer], two troublesome species with high fecundity. A total of 400 cotton fields across four major cotton-producing regions in Texas [High Plains (HP), Gulf Coast (GC), Central Texas, and Blacklands] were surveyed. Amaranthus palmeri, Texas millet [Urochloa texana (Buckley) R. Webster], A. tuberculatus, ragweed parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus L.), and barnyardgrass [Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) P. Beauv.] were reported as the top five weed escapes in cotton fields. Amaranthus palmeri was the most prevalent weed in the HP and Lower GC regions, whereas A. tuberculatus escapes were predominantly observed in the Upper GC and Blacklands regions. On average, 9.4% of an individual field was infested with A. palmeri escapes in the Lower GC region; however, 5.1 to 8.1% of a field was infested in the HP region. Average A. palmeri density ranged from 405 (Central Texas) to 3,543 plants ha–1 (Lower GC). The greatest seed rain potential by A. palmeri escapes was observed in the upper HP region (13.9 million seeds ha–1), whereas the seed rain potential of A. tuberculatus escapes was the greatest in the Blacklands (12.9 million seeds ha–1) and the upper GC regions (9.8 million seeds ha–1). Seed rain from late-season A. palmeri and A. tuberculatus escapes is significant in Texas cotton, and effective management of these escapes is imperative for minimizing seedbank inputs and impacting weed species persistence.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was supported in part by the Texas Cotton Support Committee/Cotton Incorporated and there was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors would like to thank Camille Werner, Bruno Gianovelli and Camila Grassmann for assisting with sample processing.