The effects of defoliation on yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.) reproductive capacity Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pr76f5974

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  • Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.) is an introduced Asteraceae that has become established on 10 million acres in the Pacific Northwest and California. This weed functions as an annual or short-lived perennial and depends on seeds for reproduction. Strategies of control that reduce plant fitness or lower seed production or viability may help limit the rate of spread of yellow starthistle. Previous work has shown that grazing and mowing can influence seed production. This study tested the hypothesis that proper timing and frequency of defoliation can reduce the number and viability of seeds produced. The study was conducted in Umatilla County, Oregon using a randomized block design with 4 replications of each of 4 defoliation treatments: (1) single defoliation at the bolting stage; (2) single defoliation at the bud stage; (3) two defoliations, once at the bolting stage and again at the bud stage; (4) non-defoliated control. Each of 4 blocks consisted of a 12 x 12 m area, with 16 plots measuring 3 x 3 m. Plants were defoliated at ground level using a gas-powered string-type mower. Response measurements were collected at the end of the growing season (September) following potential regrowth and included: (1) number of seedheads per plant; (2) number of seeds per seedhead; (3) number of seeds per plant; (4) number of seeds m⁻², (5) seed viability (% germination rates). Supporting measurements included: seedhead diameter; plant height, number of branches per plant; pre-dawn xylem pressure; soil moisture; and documentation of 5 biological control insect species. A single defoliation at bolting resulted in fewer seeds per seedhead, and fewer seeds per plant than non-defoliated controls. A single defoliation at the floral bud stage or repeated defoliation (bolting and again at the bud stage) resulted in equally fewer seeds per plant and fewer seeds m⁻² compared to non-defoliated controls. There was no statistical difference in percent germination of seeds among treatments. Defoliation had no effect on the infestation rates of seedheads by biological control insects. A second study examined nutrient content of yellow starthistle during 6 phenological stages from sites in Union, Baker and Umatilla Counties, Oregon during each of 2 years. Acid detergent fiber, lignin, cellulose and neutral detergent fiber contents increased through phenological development. Crude protein ranged from 16.7 to 5.0%. In Vitro dry matter digestibility ranged from 84.8% to 57.0%. Mineral nutrients P, K, CA, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, and Na were analyzed and determined to be adequate for maintenance needs of ewes.
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