Incremental crop tolerance to weeds: a measure for selecting competitive ability in Australian wheats
Total reliance on herbicides for weed control is unsustainable with the spread of herbicide resistance and the environmental need to reduce pesticide use. Strongly competitive wheat crops that have high tolerance to weed pressure and therefore maintain high yields in the presence of weeds are a low-cost option for reducing dependence on herbicides. We examined the feasibility of selecting for wheat tolerance to weeds by crossing varieties differing for traits associated with competitiveness. Competitive ability and yield potential must be treated as separate traits for selection. Current measures of crop tolerance to weed competition do not separate the two traits so that selection based on these measures is often synonymous with selection for yield potential rather than pure tolerance. We propose a new measure, termed Incremental Crop Tolerance (ICT) that reflects the incremental yield difference between genotypes associated with tolerance, over and above differences in underlying yield potential.