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Trials were carried out in 2000 and 2001 to investigate the effect of weed emergence time on weed seed production in a maize field. Datura stramonium L., Solanum nigrum L. and Abutilon theophrasti Medicus were selected for their importance as summer weeds. Emergence time was found to be crucial since delay would involve an unfavourable light environment determined by crop canopy elongation and resulting shade production. Only the early emergence of D. stramonium and A. theophrasti showed the capacity to exposing their leaves over the crop canopy. Generally the weed seed production under shade conditions decreased for the reduction of the fruit per plant since the number of seed per plant showed only a light reduction. However, while D. stramonium and A. theophrasti compete with the crop by increasing height, Solanum nigrum tends to adjust to shade without excessive reduction in number of seeds produced. Thus in D. stramonium and A. theophrasti late emergence reduced seed production to only 15%, while S. nigrum maintained 25% of the seed production level generally observed with greater light exposure. This environmental adaptation was confirmed by the less marked decrease in S. nigrum harvest index. Agroecological involvements are discussed.
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