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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense)

Host plants / species affected
Allium cepa (onion)
Allium porrum (leek)
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)
Avena sativa (oats)
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)
Brassica napus var. napus (rape)
Carthamus tinctorius (safflower)
Cicer arietinum (chickpea)
Daucus carota (carrot)
Glycine max (soyabean)
Gossypium (cotton)
Helianthus annuus (sunflower)
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Lens culinaris subsp. culinaris (lentil)
Linum usitatissimum (flax)
Medicago sativa (lucerne)
Oryza sativa (rice)
Pisum sativum (pea)
Solanum tuberosum (potato)
Triticum aestivum (wheat)
Vicia faba (faba bean)
Zea mays (maize)
T. arvense is an annual or winter annual. The entire plant is glabrous and bright green, with an unpleasant odour when bruised. Stems are erect, 18 to 80 cm tall, simple or branched above. The leaves are alternate, with basal leaves narrowly obovate, petioled and soon withering, the middle and upper leaves are oblong, entire or irregularly toothed and clasp the stem by two ear-lobes, 1 to 1.5 mm long. The flowers are initially in a small, flat cluster at the top of the leafy stem with racemes becoming elongated when in fruit, perfect, regular with four sepals, four white petals, 3 to 4 mm long; six stamens, two shorter than others. The silicule is pod-like, borne on slender, upward curving stalks, bright green to yellowish to greenish-orange. As the seeds ripen they are easily seen in crop fields, almost circular, 1.25 cm across, strongly flattened and winged. The very short style persists in a deep, narrow notch at the top of the wings, dehiscent, the two-winged locules each with 4 to 16 seeds. The seeds are ovoid, 1.2 to 2.3 mm long and 1 to 1.5 mm wide, reddish or purplish-brown to black, unsymmetrically oval in outline, somewhat flattened with several concentric ridges resembling a finger print, each face with a narrow groove extending from the hilum to the centre of the seed.
Prevention and control
Cultural Control

Because of its large seedbank, tillage practices may have a great bearing on the emergence and population density of T. arvense in cropping systems. Optimal germination of this species occurs from soil depths of about 2 cm, and burial increases the longevity of seed in the soil. Cultivation and seed bed preparation brings viable buried seed to the surface and stimulates germination (Roberts and Feast, 1972, 1973; Zwerger and Hurle, 1986). In trials on the Canadian prairies, Blackshaw et al. (1994) demonstrated that populations of T. arvense decreased under zero tillage. In field trials in the USA, the effects of post-emergence harrowing were evaluated for weed control in spring cereal crops. T. arvense was one of the most resilient weeds, and harrowing achieved only 0-34% control, compared with 100% for herbicide treatments (Wilson et al., 1992). A number of authors have reported large reductions in the emergence of T. arvense when cultivation and seed bed preparation have been practiced at night (Hartmann and Nezadal, 1990; Kuhbauch et al., 1992; Pallczynski et al., 1996).

Wahl (1988) in Germany compared the weed floras of conventional cropping systems and integrated cropping systems which consisted of shallow tillage, reduced N fertilization, paired row-drilling and pesticide applications as economic thresholds dictated. He reported that the emergence and soil seed reserves of T. arvense increased compared with conventional systems.

T. arvense is a poor competitor with certain forage crops, including Agropyron cristatum and Bromus inermis. Kirk et al. (1941) showed that densities of this weed could be reduced from 2000 plants/m² at 24 days after emergence to none at 82 days after emergence when grown with these crops. These results suggest that a break year where forage crops are introduced into the rotation may be effective where infestations of T. arvense are particularly severe. In the USA, Burnside et al. (1984) showed that a number of competitive wheat varieties effectively reduced the vigour of T. arvense individuals.

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

Biological Control

There are no reports in the literature of attempts at biological control of T. arvense.
T. arvense is a weed of 30 crops in 45 countries (Holm et al., 1997), and is classified as a serious or principal weed in 12 (Holm et al., 1991). A number of morphological and life history characteristics make the species a formidable competitor: it is a prolific seed producer, capable of building up large reserves of seed in the soil; it has an extensive root system that surrounds those of neighbouring plants; it has a short life cycle and is able to produce a number of generations in a single growing season; its seed may be viable even when mature, and it exhibits long-term dormancy; it is tolerant of some herbicides; seed is set before crop harvest and early resource allocation enables early development of the root system (Hume, 1987, 1988; Holm et al., 1997). In Canada, it has been shown that a light infestation can reduce wheat yields by 35% and a heavy infestation by 50% (Best and McIntyre, 1975). Klaassen (1995) observed an increase in the abundance of T. arvense and other cruciferous weeds following a five-fold increase in the area of rape in the preceding 5 years.

T. arvense acts as an alternative host to a range of crop pests and diseases which include the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) (Kmec and Weiss, 1997), Lygus lineolaris (Gerber and Wise, 1995), Meloidogyne hapla (Belair and Benoit, 1996), Leptosphaeria maculans (Pedras et al., 1996), Heterodera schachtii (Gleiss and Bachthaler, 1988), Pieris napi, Pontia daplidice (Forsberg, 1987), Heterodera glycines (Manuel, 1984), Delia radicum (cabbage root fly) (Finch and Ackley, 1977) and Leptosphaeria maculans (Best and McIntyre, 1975).

T. arvense has been reported as a contaminant of commercial oilseed rape seed stocks in the USA (Davis et al., 1996) and may be toxic to cattle (Smith and Crowe, 1987). Best and McIntyre (1975) note that the plant contains oil glucosides which may be converted to mustard oils. Also the content of allyl isothiocyanate (the probable reason for the name 'stinkweed') can cause gastric distress in livestock. Its also contain chemicals which produce an allelopathic effect, inhibiting the germination of wheat (Stefureac and Fratilescu-Sesan, 1979).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
Bayer CropScience Crop Compendium, Bayer CropScience, English language
Ontario CropIPM factsheets, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Canada, 2015, English language
Ontario CropIPM factsheets, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Canada, 2015, French language
University of Illinois Extension Factsheets, University of Illinois, English language
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