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Van Mourik T.A.,International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics Bamako | Stomph T.J.,Wageningen University | Murdoch A.J.,University of Reading
Weed Biology and Management

Seedbank density is an important aspect that determines the amount of damage that the parasitic weed, purple witchweed (Striga hermonthica; hereafter, called "Striga"), causes on its crop hosts. The seedbank depletion of Striga was measured in Mali and Niger during the 2004 rainy season under the host crops, pearl millet and sorghum, the non-host crops, cowpea and sesame, the intercrops of pearl millet or sorghum with cowpea or sesame, and fallow with or without weeding. Two methods were used and compared; namely, a seed bag method and a soil-sampling method. The fate of the seeds was assessed by a seed press test. Seed germination, as determined by the presence of empty seed coats, contributed most to the seedbank depletion of Striga under a variety of crop covers and fallow. The highest seedbank depletion was found under the monocultures of the host crops. The intercrops of the host and non-host crops caused less seedbank depletion, followed by the monocultures of the non-host crops, fallow, and bare soil. The seed bag method and the soil-sampling method yielded similar percentages of seedbank depletion, while the former allowed for distinguishing between the germinated and diseased seeds. The results suggest that, although all the tested crop species can cause the seed germination and seedbank depletion of Striga, management by using host cereal crops causes the highest amount of germination and has the highest potential to deplete the soil seed bank, provided that seed production is prevented. © 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2011 Weed Science Society of Japan. Source

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