Agronomic research on the effects of nitrogen fertilizer and weed control in corn has focused primarily on maintaining or increasing yield. Few studies have examined the effect of nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate or weed competition (or both) on whole plant growth and development. The objectives of this research were to determine how N influences the growth and development of corn and to explore how green foxtail density affects this relationship. Field experiments were conducted on a sandy low organic matter soil from 1999 to 2001. The experiment was designed as a factorial with N rate ranging from 0 to 200 kg N ha−1 and targeted green foxtail density ranging from 0 to 300 plants m−2. Under weed-free conditions, a higher rate of N fertilizer increased corn leaf and grain N content, leaf area index (LAI), plant height, and aboveground dry matter (DM) production, including kernel weight. However, in the presence of green foxtail, corn leaf N content, LAI, growth rate, plant height, and aboveground DM were reduced at each N level. Despite having significant main effects, there was no interaction between N rate and green foxtail density. Results indicate that in corn grown on a coarse-textured soil with low organic matter, the additional stress brought about by the presence of green foxtail exacerbated the effect of low N rates on corn growth and development. More intensive weed management may be required in corn if N fertilizer rates are reduced.
Nomenclature: Green foxtail, Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv. SETVI; corn, Zea mays L. ‘Pioneer 3905’.