Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Young, Bryan

Second Advisor

Fakhoury, Ahmad


The continued spread of glyphosate-resistant common waterhemp [Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) Sauer (syn. rudis)] and Palmer amaranth [Amaranthus palmeri (S. Wats.)] have complicated weed control efforts in soybean and corn production in Illinois. A thorough understanding of the weed biology of these species is fundamental in developing effective weed management strategies. The determination of emergence patterns as well as the influence of tillage practices on soil microclimate and soil seed bank will allow control strategies to be implemented at the most effective timing. Field experiments were conducted in southern Illinois throughout the growing season of 2013 and 2014 on two separate sites with populations of common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. Three tillage treatments were evaluated: no-tillage; early tillage, preferably performed around a recommended soybean planting date of May 1st; and late tillage, preferably performed on June 1st to simulate a late soybean planting. Amaranthus seedlings were identified and enumerated in the center 1 m2 quadrat of each plot within a 7-day interval from April through November or first frost. All weed seedlings were removed from the plot area after each enumeration. Soil temperature and soil moisture were recorded hourly throughout the experiment using data loggers established in the plot area. First emergence of common waterhemp occurred earlier in the season than did Palmer amaranth. In 2013, initial emergence of common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth was observed at the first and second week of May, respectively. In 2014, initial common waterhemp emergence was observed in late April, while Palmer amaranth initial emergence was similar to previous year. Palmer amaranth emerged over a longer period compared to waterhemp. By the end of June, 90% of common waterhemp had emerged regardless of tillage or year. By the same measure, Palmer amaranth emergence was extended to the third week of July and second week of August in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Soil temperature did not differ across tillage treatments in both years. On the other hand, differences in soil moisture were observed, mostly over two weeks following each tillage operation. The single best predictor for common waterhemp emergence was soil temperature (weekly highs and lows) followed by soil moisture. For Palmer amaranth emergence the single best predictor was spikes in soil moisture (high for the week). In 2013, common waterhemp emergence was initially positively and later in the growing season negatively interacted with maximum temperature 13 days prior to counts, with temperatures above 30 C observed with decreased emergence (R2 = 0.35). In the same year spikes in soil moisture interacted with Palmer amaranth emergence were those observed 11 days before each seedling enumeration date (R2 = 0.30). In 2014, with first common waterhemp emergence in April, a positive interaction to high soil temperature was initially observed followed by a positive interaction to minimum temperatures later in the season (R2 = 0.55). Spikes in soil moisture observed 2 weeks prior to emergence and weekly high temperatures 8 days prior to emergence were the best predictors of Palmer amaranth emergence in 2014 (R2 =0.37). Soil seed bank depletion was also estimated by comparing field emergence with greenhouse experiment results of soil seed bank estimation. Greater emergence of common waterhemp from the soil seed bank was observed in early tillage in 2013 and no-tillage in 2014 than late tillage, respectively; for Palmer amaranth, the greatest emergence from the soil seed bank was observed in no-tillage and late tillage in 2013, and no-tillage, in 2014. The emergence patterns observed in this research suggest that although common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth exhibit discontinuous emergence throughout the growing season, greater attention should be placed on managing peaks of emergence from late April to late July, which is critical to provide a foundation for early-season weed management. Furthermore, knowledge regarding the emergence patterns of common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth combined with monitoring environmental factors such as soil moisture and soil temperature may assist efforts for scouting fields to determine the likely presence of these weed species. The timing of viable postemergence herbicide options for control of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is critical and monitoring weather patterns to direct scouting efforts may improve the timeliness of these postemergence applications.




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