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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322679

Title: Alternatives to atrazine for weed management in processing sweet corn

item ARSLAN, ZUBEYDE FILIZ - University Of Illinois
item Williams, Martin
item BECKER, ROGER - University Of Minnesota
item FRITZ, VINCENT - University Of Minnesota
item PEACHEY, R ED - Oregon State University
item RABAEY, TOM - General Mills, Inc

Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2015
Publication Date: 7/1/2017
Citation: Arslan, Z., Williams, M., Becker, R., Fritz, V.A., Peachey, R., Rabaey, T.L. 2017. Alternatives to atrazine for weed management in processing sweet corn. Weed Science. 64:531-539.

Interpretive Summary: Weed management alternatives to atrazine in sweet corn are critically needed because use of the herbicide is becoming difficult in significant areas where processing sweet corn is grown. The sweet corn industry helped generate a list of atrazine-free weed management systems which were subsequently tested over 12 site-years in Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon. Most of these systems failed to perform as well as common atrazine-containing standards; however, two atrazine-free systems resulted in comparable weed control and yield to the atrazine-containing standards. The impact of this work is that the processing sweet corn industry is now adopting weed management systems that utilize control tactics other than atrazine in areas where the herbicide is no longer suitable for use.

Technical Abstract: 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 four years, 12 atrazine-free weed management treatments were compared to three standard atrazine-containing treatments and a weed-free treatment. 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 treatment, 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. 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.