Skip to main content Accessibility help

Feasibility of Organic Weed Management in Sweet Corn and Snap Bean for Processing

  • Heidi J. Johnson (a1), Jed B. Colquhoun (a1), Alvin J. Bussan (a1) and Richard A. Rittmeyer (a1)


There is significant interest from processors in producing organic sweet corn and snap bean. However, large-scale production is necessary for this to be a practical and economical venture for processors. This study focused on the feasibility of managing weeds in organic sweet corn and snap bean, utilizing methods that are practical in large hectarage. Tactics such as rotary hoe, interrow cultivation, and a stale seedbed were evaluated alone or in combination. Hand-weeded and herbicide-based treatments were included for each crop for comparison. Percentage weed control, weed biomass, and crop yield were quantified, and net profit was calculated for each treatment. Organic weed management was feasible in snap bean, with yields similar among several of the organic treatments and the herbicide treatment in all 3 yr of the study. Interrow cultivation was the most effective means of organic weed control in snap bean. Organic weed management was possible in snap bean because it is a short-season crop and an effective competitor with weeds in the crop row. Organic weed management was more difficult in sweet corn because of the longer crop season and poor competition with weeds in the crop row. In sweet corn, the organic treatment involving three interrow cultivations was the only one consistently similar in yield to the herbicide treatments. Higher net profits were attained for most of the organic treatments in both crops because of the organic premium. Market saturation and organic premium adjustments are factors for grower consideration in this potential industry, particularly for sweet corn production.

Existe un interés significativo entre los procesadores en la producción orgánica de elote dulce (Zea mays L.) y de habichuelas (Phaseolus vulgaris L). Sin embargo, la producción en gran escala es necesaria para que esta sea una actividad práctica y económica. Este estudio se enfocó en la factibilidad del manejo de malezas en el cultivo de Zea mays L y de Phaseolus vulgaris L orgánicos, utilizando métodos que sean prácticos en grandes superficies. Las estrategias tales como el uso de rotocultivador, cultivación interlineal y semilleros añejos fueron evaluadas individualmente o en combinación. El deshierbe manual y tratamientos con herbicidas se incluyeron para cada cultivo y así poder compararlos. El porcentaje de control de maleza, la biomasa de la misma y el rendimiento del cultivo se cuantificaron y el beneficio neto se calculó para cada tratamiento. El manejo orgánico de malezas fue factible en las Phaseolus vulgaris L, con rendimientos similares entre varios de los tratamientos orgánicos y el tratamiento con herbicidas en todos los tres años del estudio. El cultivo inter-lineal en las Phaseolus vulgaris L fue el medio más efectivo de control orgánico de malezas. El manejo orgánico de malezas fue posible en el cultivo de Phaseolus vulgaris L debido a que es un cultivo de corta duración y es un competidor efectivo de las malezas. El control antes mencionado fue más difícil en la producción de Zea mays L. debido a que es un cultivo de más larga duración y no compite bien con las malezas. En lo relativo al cultivo de Zea mays L., el tratamiento orgánico que incluyó tres cultivaciones inter-lineales, fue el único consistentemente similar en rendimiento en comparación a los tratamientos con herbicida. Se lograron mayores beneficios netos para la mayoría de los tratamientos orgánicos en ambos cultivos debido al mejor precio obtenido para este tipo de productos. La saturación del mercado y los ajustes en la diferencia de precio son factores que los agricultores deberían de considerar en esta industria potencial, particularmente para la producción de Zea mays L.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author's E-mail:


Hide All
Boerboom, C., Cullen, E. M., Esker, P., Flashinski, R., Jensen, B., and Renz, M. 2009. Pest Management in Wisconsin Field Crops. University of Wisconsin Extension Publication A3646. 260 p.
Brainard, D. C., Bellinder, R. R., Hahn, R. R., and Shah, D. A. 2008. Crop rotation, cover crop and weed management effects on weed seedbanks and yields in snap bean, sweet corn, and cabbage. Weed Sci. 56:434441.
Colquhoun, J. B., Bellinder, R. B., and Kirkwyland, J. J. 1999. Efficacy of mechanical cultivation with and without herbicides in broccoli (Brassica oleracea), snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), and sweet corn (Zea mays). Weed Technol. 13:244252.
Johnson, W. C. and Mullinix, B. G. 1998. Stale seedbed weed control in cucumber. Weed Sci. 46:698702.
Johnson, W. C. and Mullinix, B. G. 2000. Evaluation of tillage implement for stale seedbed tillage in peanut (Arachis hypogaea). Weed Technol. 14:519523.
Laboski, C. A. M., Peters, J. B., and Bundy, L. B. 2006. Nutrient Application Guidelines for Field, Vegetable, and Fruit Crops in Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Extension Publication A2809. 76 p.
Leblanc, M. L., Cloutier, D. C., and Stewart, K. A. 2006. Rotary hoe cultivation in sweet corn. HortTechnol. 16:583589.
Melander, B., Rasmussen, I. A., and Bárberi, P. 2005. Integrating physical and cultural methods of weed control—examples from European research. Weed Sci. 53:369381.
Mohler, C. L., Frisch, J. C., and Pleasant, J. Mt. 1997. Evaluation of mechanical weed management programs for corn (Zea mays). Weed Sci. 21:106109.
[OTA] Organic Trade Association 2007. Industry Statistics and Projected Growth. Accessed: December 12, 2008.
Posner, J. L., Baldock, J. O., and Hedtcke, J. L. 2008. Organic and conventional production systems in the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial: I. Productivity 1999–2002. Agron. J. 100:255260.
[PU] Purdue University 2009. Produce Quality and Safety Information for Growers: Commodities/Snap Bean. Accessed: May 7, 2009.
Riemens, M. M., Van Der Weide, R. Y., Bleeker, P. O., and Lotz, L. 2006. Effect of stale seedbed preparations and subsequent weed control in lettuce (cv. Iceboll) on weed densities. Weed Res. 47:149156.
[UM Extension] University of Minnesota Extension 2008. Machinery Cost Estimates. Accessed: December 1, 2008.
[USDA] United States Department of Agriculture 2002. Census of Agriculture.,_Chapter_1_US/st99_1_035_035.pdf. Accessed: December 22, 2008.
[USDL] United States Department of Labor 2008. Wage and Hour Division: Fair Labor Standards Act. Accessed: December 1, 2008.
Van Der Weide, R. Y., Bleeker, P. O., Achten, V. T. J. M., and Lotz, L. A. P. 2008. Innovation in mechanical weed control in crop rows. Weed Res. 48:215224.
Walz, E. 1999. Third Biennial National Organic Farmers' Survey, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, CA. Accessed: May 7, 2009.
Williams, M. M. and Lindquist, J. L. 2008. Differential tolerance in sweet corn to wild-proso millet (Panicum miliaceum) interference. Weed Sci. 56:9196.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Weed Technology
  • ISSN: 0890-037X
  • EISSN: 1550-2740
  • URL: /core/journals/weed-technology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed