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Alternatives to Atrazine for Weed Management in Processing Sweet Corn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Zubeyde Filiz Arslan
Düzce University, Düzce, Turkey, and University of Illinois, Department of Crop Sciences, 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
Martin M. Williams
USDA–Agricultural Research Service, Global Change and Photosynthesis Research, 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
Roger Becker
University of Minnesota, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108
Vincent A. Fritz
University of Minnesota, Department of Horticultural Science, Southern Research and Outreach Center, 35838 120th Street, Waseca, MN 56093
R. Ed Peachey
Oregon State University, Department of Horticulture, 4017 Ag and Life Sciences Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331
Tom L. Rabaey
General Mills Agricultural Research, 1201 N. 4th St., Le Sueur, MN 56058


Atrazine has been the most widely used herbicide in North American processing sweet corn for decades; however, increased restrictions in recent years have reduced or eliminated atrazine use in certain production areas. The objective of this study was to identify the best stakeholder-derived weed management alternatives to atrazine in processing sweet corn. In field trials throughout the major production areas of processing sweet corn, including three states over 4 yr, 12 atrazine-free weed management treatments were compared to three standard atrazine-containing treatments and a weed-free check. Treatments varied with respect to herbicide mode of action, herbicide application timing, and interrow cultivation. All treatments included a PRE application of dimethenamid. No single weed species occurred across all sites; however, weeds observed in two or more sites included common lambsquarters, giant ragweed, morningglory species, velvetleaf, and wild-proso millet. Standard treatments containing both atrazine and mesotrione POST provided the most efficacious weed control among treatments and resulted in crop yields comparable to the weed-free check, thus demonstrating the value of atrazine in sweet corn production systems. Timely interrow cultivation in atrazine-free treatments did not consistently improve weed control. Only two atrazine-free treatments consistently resulted in weed control and crop yield comparable to standard treatments with atrazine POST: treatments with tembotrione POST either with or without interrow cultivation. Additional atrazine-free treatments with topramezone applied POST worked well in Oregon where small-seeded weed species were prevalent. This work demonstrates that certain atrazine-free weed management systems, based on input from the sweet corn growers and processors who would adopt this technology, are comparable in performance to standard atrazine-containing weed management systems.

Weed Management
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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Associate Editor for this paper: William Vencill, University of Georgia.


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