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Plastic response to early shade avoidance cues has season-long effect on Beta vulgaris growth and development
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  • Albert Adjesiwor,
  • Joseph Ballenger,
  • Cynthia Weinig,
  • Brent E. Ewers,
  • Andrew Kniss
Albert Adjesiwor
University of Wyoming
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Joseph Ballenger
University of Wyoming
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Cynthia Weinig
University of Wyoming
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Brent E. Ewers
University of Wyoming
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Andrew Kniss
University of Wyoming
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Abstract

Early emerging weeds are known to negatively affect crop growth but the mechanisms by which weeds reduce crop yield are not fully understood. In a 4-yr study, we evaluated the duration of weed-reflected light on sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) growth and development. The study included an early-season weed removal series and a late-season weed addition series of treatments arranged in a randomized complete block, and the study design ensured minimal direct resource competition. If weeds were present from emergence until the two true-leaf sugar beet stage, sugar beet leaf area was reduced 22%, leaf biomass reduced 25%, and root biomass reduced 32% compared to sugar beet grown season-long without surrounding weeds. Leaf area, leaf biomass, and root biomass were similar whether weeds were removed at the two true-leaf stage (approximately 330 GDD after planting) or allowed to remain until sugar beet harvest (approximately 1240 GDD after planting). Adding weeds at the two true-leaf stage and leaving them until harvest (~1240 GDD) reduced sugar beet leaf and root biomass by 18 and 23%, respectively. It appears sugar beet responded to weed presence by adjusting carbon allocation and leaf orientation to optimize light interception.