Field studies were conducted near Blackville, SC, in 2002 and 2003 and near Pendleton, SC, in 2003 to compare the critical period for weed control (CPWC) in narrow- (48 cm) and wide-row (97 cm) corn. A series of treatments of increasing duration of weed interference and length of weed-free period were imposed within each row spacing. Diversity and density of the weed spectrum were greater at Blackville than at Pendleton. Weed interference duration and weed-free period curves were similar between row widths for each of the 3 site-years. Averaged over row width, the CPWC was 36 to 40 d longer at Blackville than at Pendleton. The CPWC began 5 to 9 d after corn emergence (DAE) (one- to two-leaf stage) and ended 45 to 53 DAE (eight- to 10-leaf stage) at Blackville. At Pendleton, the CPWC was only 4 d, beginning 21 DAE (five-leaf stage) and ending 25 DAE (five- to six-leaf stage). Light interception by corn at Blackville at the end of the CPWC averaged 78%, but light interception averaged only 31% at Pendleton at the end of the CPWC, implying that the weed density or weed spectrum may be more of a determinate of the CPWC than canopy formation. Light interception was similar between row widths throughout the growing season, resulting in similar late-season weed biomass between row widths. The CPWC and crop competitiveness with late-emerging weeds was similar between wide- and narrow-row corn when corn light interception did not differ between row widths. Therefore, other strategies, such as increasing the population of narrow-row corn, are likely needed to provide a competitive advantage over wider rows.
Nomenclature: Corn, Zea mays L. ‘Asgrow 897 Roundup Ready’.