Maize dwarf mosaic (MDM) stunts corn growth, delays development, and is the most prevalent viral disease of sweet corn grown in many regions of North America and Europe. Although some weeds escape control in most sweet corn fields, the extent to which MDM influences the weed suppressive ability of the crop is unknown. Field studies were conducted over a 3-yr period to characterize the influence of variable MDM incidence in sweet corn on growth, fecundity, and germinability of wild-proso millet, a common weed in the crop. Treatments included five levels of MDM incidence (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of plants infected) in two MDM-susceptible hybrids differing in weed suppressive ability. Previous research showed that hybrid ‘Legacy’ had greater weed suppressive ability than ‘Sugar Buns’. Wild-proso millet biomass and fecundity depended largely on the hybrid in which the weed was growing. Wild-proso millet growing in Sugar Buns weighed 45 to 117% more than wild-proso millet in Legacy. Incidence of MDM in sweet corn affected wild-proso millet biomass and fecundity, but only under high weed population densities. When wild-proso millet was observed at 122 plants m−2, weed biomass increased 9 g m−2 for each additional 10% incidence of MDM of sweet corn. Weed suppressive ability of the competitive and less competitive hybrids were influenced to the same extent by MDM. Coupled with a lack of resistance to MDM in two-thirds of commercial sweet corn hybrids, the disease could be an additional factor perpetuating weed growth and fecundity in sweet corn, particularly in fields with high population densities of wild-proso millet.
Nomenclature: Wild-proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L.; sweet corn, Zea mays L., ‘Legacy’, ‘Sugar Buns’.