Impact of natural weed infestation on the performance of selected sugarcane varieties in the Southern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria
Experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of some sugarcane varieties against natural weed infestation. The trials were laid out in a randomized complete block design with split-plot arrangement and
three replications. The sugarcane varieties were the main plots while the sub-plots consisted of weeding regimes. Recommended cultural and agronomic practices were followed to raise the crops. Data were collected on weed density, weed biomass, sugarcane tiller count and cane yield. Our results revealed that Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) W.D.Clayton, Panicum maximum Jacq, Imperata cylindrica L., Panicum repens L., Cynodon dactylon L. and Cyperus rotundus L. were the major weed problems of sugarcane in Ilorin. The monthly hoe weeded treatment had significantly higher tiller count which translated to higher cane yield (22.61 to 72.54 t/ha) than other weed control treatments. The reduction in cane yield was between 80.51 and 97.55% depending on duration of weed infestation. Association of weed parameters with cane yield was negative and significant showed that a decrease in weed infestations will result in simultaneous increase in sugarcane yield. Therefore, in selecting sugarcane variety(s) for breeding programmes, emphasis should be placed on sugarcane growth parameters that negatively and significantly correlated with weed infestation.
Key Words: Weeds, sugarcane, plant crop, ratoon, cane yield, tiller count