Organic growers need additional tools for weed control. A new technique using abrasive grit propelled by compressed air was tested in field plots. Grit derived from corncobs was directed at seedlings of summer annual weeds growing at the bases of corn plants when the corn was at differing early stages of leaf development. Season-long, in-row weed control exceeded 90% when two or three abrasion events were coupled with between-row cultivation. Timing of weed abrasion was critical, with highest levels of control corresponding to the one- and five-leaf stages or the one-, three-, and five-leaf stages of corn development. Corn yields associated with these treatments were equivalent to those of hand-weeded controls in which no abrasive grit was applied. Thus, air-propelled abrasive grit applications at the one-, three-, and five-leaf stages of corn controlled weeds sufficiently to prevent weed-induced reductions in corn grain. Additionally, these applications were not harmful to corn plants. This new concept for weed control may be of interest to organic crop managers.
Nomenclature: Corn, Zea mays L. ‘Croplan 294RR' and ‘3114RR’.