Difficulties in chemically controlling large crabgrass in corn in South Africa have recently been attributed to the occurrence of naked crabgrass. In contrast to large crabgrass, naked crabgrass is not easily controlled with acetanilide herbicides. Critical periods of weed control (CPWC) for naked crabgrass in corn was determined in field studies during the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 growing seasons at two separate localities for an early and late planting date of corn. Weed-free and weed–crop interference treatments of increasing duration were maintained at various crop growth stages in the presence of naked crabgrass. Biomass of naked crabgrass was determined as dry weight per square meter quadrant, which yielded 428 g m−2 at Potchefstroom and 594 g m−2 at Wesselsbron. An exponential regression model was used to determine the CPWC expressed as growing degree days after crop emergence, on the basis of an estimated 10% relative yield loss in corn. The onset and ending, as well as the duration of the CPWC, differed between seasons and localities. At 10% relative yield loss, the onset of the CPWC ranged between the two-leaf (V2) and six-leaf (V6) stages, and the ending between the 12-leaf (V12) stage and 2 wk after tasseling (T 2). The duration of the CPWC ranged between 22 and 80 d for the respective planting dates, years, and localities. Yield losses ranged from 28 to 82% in the season-long weedy plots. The shifting of planting dates alone did not reduce yield losses since the effect of late infestations of naked crabgrass is significant. Naked crabgrass control from crop emergence is essential, followed by POST herbicide application during the critical period of weed control to lower the risk of corn yield losses.
Nomenclature: Naked crabgrass, Digitaria nuda Schumach. DIGNU; large crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis (L) Scop. DIGSA; corn, Zea mays L.