Maize is the third most important cereal crop in the world and many subsistence farmers are practicing intercropping of it with legumes due to land scarcity and in order to enhance production. Intercropping system is being practiced in may areas of South Africa mainly in the Limpopo province. The objective of the study was to evaluate the crop responses to intercropping maize with different growth length cowpea cultivars. The effects of intercropping on weed growth, maize and cowpea growth and yield components were investigated. The experiment was conducted during the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons at Bethlehem and Potchefstroom. Treatments were: maize sole, maize+PAN311 (short duration cowpea cultivar), maize+Glenda (medium duration cowpea cultivar), maize+Agrinawa (long duration cowpea cultivar) and sole plots of all cowpea varieties. Each plot was divided into two weed levels where all the plots were kept weed free for one month after planting, after which one half was left weedy and the other half weed free. Weed sampling was done within each weed treatment. Intercropping reduced maize LAI and plant height while time to physiological maturity was also reduced by weed infestation, especially under drier and warmer environments. Glenda and Agrinawa intercrops produced more nodules per plant under cooler and wetter conditions. Agrinawa produced the highest leaf and total DMY under sole crop conditions and this was significantly reduced by weed infestation. Different growth duration cultivars did not differ in their N2-binding abilities. Maize intercropping, especially with Glenda and Agrinawa, significantly reduced weed biomass. Maize sole crop under zero weeds had high grain yield compared to intercropping. PAN311 and Glenda sole crops under zero weeds produced higher yields under dry and warmer conditions, and cooler and wetter conditions, respectively, compared to intercropping. High cowpea grain yields were strongly correlated to more seeds per pod and larger pod lengths and number of pods per plant especially for Glenda. No intercropping advantage compared to sole cropping was observed (total LER < 1). This implies that maize and cowpeas must rather be planted as sole crops for better yields under wetter and cooler, and warmer and drier conditions. Copyright
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2009.