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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Red fescue undersown in winter wheat suppresses Elytrigia repens

Bergkvist, Göran; Adler, Anneli; Hansson, Margareta; Weih, Martin


P>Elytrigia repens (syn. Elymus repens) is a perennial grass weed that is controlled by herbicides or by tillage. Both methods are expensive and may have negative effects on the environment. Therefore, alternative methods of weed control, such as using competition from under-sown perennial forage crops, are of interest. Red fescue can be sown together with winter wheat as a non-flowering understorey crop that has its main growth during late summer and autumn. This study quantified the effect of red fescue and E. repens on wheat biomass and tested the hypothesis that under-sown red fescue reduces the amount of E. repens rhizomes and thus the need for herbicides or tillage. Two field experiments in which winter wheat, red fescue and E. repens were grown in all possible combinations were conducted between 2003 and 2005. Elytrigia repens reduced wheat biomass by 8%, while red fescue had no significant effect on wheat biomass. Red fescue reduced late autumn biomass of E. repens rhizomes by 40%. The results suggest that red fescue sown with winter wheat can reduce propagation of E. repens during summer and autumn, without a significant reduction in wheat biomass.


weed competition; weed management; niche differentiation; living mulch; cover crops; couch grass; Elymus repens; Festuca rubra; Triticum aestivum

Published in

Weed Research
2010, Volume: 50, number: 5, pages: 447-455