Weed Competition in Corn

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Weeds compete with corn for limited resources such as water, nutrients, light, and space. Weeds have also been shown to alter the growth of corn seedlings even before the competition for resources begins. Weeds growing in close proximity to corn can change the quality of light following reflection off the weed foliage which may negatively impact corn productivity.

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Not all weeds compete with corn equally. Broadleaf weeds tend to be more competitive than grasses. For example, the predicted weed densities in plants per 40 feet of row required to cause a 10% yield loss in corn would be 80 foxtails compared to 40 pigweeds and only 10 cockleburs. Canopy closure of corn can limit the competitive ability of weeds.

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However, broadleaf weeds are better able to avoid shading effects of corn and compete longer into the growing season. Early germinating weeds are generally more competitive than weeds which emerge later in the growing season. Fields that experience moisture stress are also at greater risk to yield losses from weed competition. Heavier soils that hold moisure better can tolerate higher populations of weeds that may impact corn yield potential.

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