There is a lot of volunteer corn floating around in fields this year. University of Missouri Extension Agronomy Specialist Wayne Crook says you need to know what was planted in the past in order to know how to get rid of this nasty little problem. This problem will probably get worse due to the fact of resistance to certain chemicals.

Click here to listen to KMZU’s Janet Adkison talk with Agronomy Specialist Wayne Crook:
Wayne Crook


Wind storms late in the growing season of 2011 as well as fields that were flooded resulted in a lot of down corn in the area. The losses associated with the down corn and it’s harvesting resulted in concerns over volunteer corn in next season’s crop and the possible options to control it. Volunteer corn can be more than a nuisance and can result in yield losses in both corn and soybeans. Volunteer corn can also lead to significant corn rootworm problems. With soybeans, when rootworms hatch, they have nothing to eat. With volunteer corn, those rootworms have something to feed on and populations can build.

One of the most important factors to consider is what kind of corn was grown? Was the hybrid a conventional hybrid or did it have a single or multiple genetically –modified herbicide trait? The second factor is what crop do you intend to plant this coming spring? If you plant to rotate to a soybean crop [conventional, Round-up Ready, LibertyLink (LL) or STS], the simplest option would be to include a post-grass herbicide, such as Select Max, Assure II or Targa, in with the post herbicide program. However, other herbicide options could be used, depending on the type of soybean variety planted.

If you plan to rotate the field back to corn (corn on corn) then your options are a little more complex. If the volunteer corn has only the glyphosate (RR) trait, then a hybrid that is LibertyLink or Clearfield resistant will provide the best option for managing volunteer RR corn. More than likely, the volunteer corn problem will be stacked RR plus LL hybrid. With this combination of traits, the best bet would be to plant a Clearfield hybrid and spray with Pursuit or Lighting to help control or suppress the volunteer RR/SS corn. Another possible consideration would be to plant the problem field or fields last and allow the volunteer corn in the fallow field to germinate then spray with Select Max or possibly paraquat (Gramoxone) prior to planting. Select Max requires a 6-day wait before the corn crop can be planted and paraquat can be inconsistent and requires good spray coverage to be effective. Another possibility is tillage, whether it is moldboard tillage to bury the seed, spring tillage, or in-crop cultivation to provide some control of the volunteer corn between rows.

As new traits are available in corn hybrids, volunteer corn could become more of a problem. Once Enlist corn (Dow Agrosciences) and Optimum GAT corn (Dupont/Pioneer) are available in the market place, corn hybrids will have resistant combinations that could be tricky to manage as well.