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Control of Volunteer Corn

April 13, 2001
Poor cornstalk quality last fall resulted in significant seed loss at harvest in many areas of Illinois. Indeed, many cornfields soon "greened up" following the 2000 harvest, not because of weed growth, but because of the "second" corn crop of the season. While some of this corn seed was lost due to fall germination, and some was likely lost during the winter months, volunteer corn may be a common weed problem in soybean fields and cornfields during 2001. This may not be much cause for alarm to everyone, but some volunteer corn plants may contain traits not approved for human consumption or export (StarLink and Roundup Ready, for example), which ultimately could lead to further problems during harvest. It might be timely to review options for volunteer corn control in soybeans and corn.

Control in Soybeans

Control of volunteer corn will be much easier and more complete in soybeans than in corn. Several soil-applied and postemergence herbicide options are available that can provide excellent control of volunteer corn in soybeans. Postemergence soybean herbicides are generally more effective than soil-applied herbicides. Keep in mind, however, that volunteer corn often grows in clumps near the corn ear. Complete control of clump corn is sometimes more difficult to achieve than control of individual plants because thorough coverage of clump plants can be more difficult.

Soil-applied soybean herbicides that can provide suppression or control of volunteer corn include Scepter (or premixes containing imazaquin), Treflan (trifluralin), Command, Classic (or premixes containing chlorimuron), and Pursuit (or premixes containing imazethapyr). Most of these products can be surface applied without incorporation in no-till systems, and absence of soil disturbance may actually reduce the amount of volunteer corn emergence.

The postemergence grass control herbicides, Assure II, Fusion, Fusilade DX, Select, and Poast Plus, are effective options for volunteer corn control. It should be noted that control of volunteer corn with these herbicides may be reduced when these products are applied in combination with postemergence broadleaf herbicides. Other postemergence soybean herbicides that can suppress or control volunteer corn include Scepter, Raptor, and glyphosate. Scepter and Raptor will not provide much control of volunteer ClearField corn, and glyphosate will not provide acceptable control of volunteer glyphosate-resistant corn. Efficacy ratings, application rates, and maximum volunteer corn heights for these products appear in Table 6.

Control in Corn

In conventional corn, no selective corn herbicide will selectively control volunteer corn. If second-year corn will be planted, control of volunteer corn in the 2001 corn crop can be enhanced with the use of herbicide-resistant/ -tolerant hybrids that allow the use of herbicides that normally control corn. Table 7 lists options for volunteer corn control in the 2001 corn crop.--Aaron Hager and Christy Sprague

Author: Aaron Hager Christy Sprague


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