Sweet corn is seeded under a wide range of population densities; however, the extent to which variable population density influences weed suppression is unknown. Therefore, field studies were undertaken to quantify the influence of sweet corn seeding level on growth, seed production, and post-harvest seed germination of wild-proso millet, one of the most problematic weeds in the crop. As crop seeding level increased, path analysis results indicated the crop canopy became taller and thicker, resulting in less wild-proso millet biomass, seed production, and germinability. However, at the level of individual fields, reductions in wild-proso millet growth and seed production were modest, at best, between a crop population currently used by growers and a higher crop population known to optimize yield of certain hybrids. These results indicate near-future increases in sweet corn seeding levels may play a minor role in improving weed management in individual sweet corn fields. Nonetheless, a reduction in crop populations, via weather- or management-driven phenomenon, increases risk of greater wild-proso millet seed production.
Nomenclature: Wild-proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L.; sweet corn, Zea mays L.