Weed management decisions based on weed threshold models offer the opportunity to reduce herbicide use by allowing the possibility of forgoing treatment or lowering rates. Weed thresholds based on a relative leaf-cover model were tested during a 4-yr period at two locations. Two 1.62-ha fields, planted to conventional and glyphosate-resistant corn (2004, 2005, 2007) or soybean (2006), were divided in 900 m2 sections. Herbicides were applied postemergence to each of these sections with either variable rates based on weed thresholds, or constant full rates. Variable herbicide rates included: no application, half rate, or full rate. Relative weed cover values of 0.2 and 0.4 (corn) or 0.1 and 0.3 (soybean) served as thresholds for incremental rates. Digital images were used to evaluate the relative weed cover. Weed density was assessed before and after herbicide application. Weed seed production was estimated for two species in 2004 and 2005. No difference in crop yield, relative weed cover, weed density, or weed seed production was observed between conventional and glyphosate-resistant cropping systems. During the first year, herbicide use reduction was obtained (−85.4%) with marginal crop yield loss (5 to 15%). In the subsequent 3 yr, preherbicide weed densities increased and concomitant increases in relative weed cover values did not allow more than a 10% overall reduction in herbicide use. This threshold model designed to maintain crop yields within a given year did not allow significant reduction in herbicide use during the following 3 yr. Residual weed populations most likely replenished the seed bank to levels that allowed weed densities to increase afterward. Increased weed density over time in plots treated with full rates of herbicide every year also indicated that a single postemergence herbicide treatment was not sufficient to contain weed populations at low levels every year in this corn–soybean rotation.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr