Knowledge of weed community structure in vegetable crops of the north central region (NCR) is poor. To characterize weed species composition present at harvest (hereafter called residual weeds) in processing sweet corn, 175 fields were surveyed in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from 2005 to 2007. Weed density was enumerated by species in thirty 1-m2 quadrats placed randomly along a 300- to 500-m loop through the field, and additional species observed outside quadrats were also recorded. Based on weed community composition, population density, and mean plant size, overall weed interference level was rated. A total of 56 residual weed species were observed and no single species dominated the community of NCR processing sweet corn. Several of the most abundant species, such as common lambsquarters and velvetleaf, have been problems for many years, while other species, like wild-proso millet, have become problematic in only the last 20 yr. Compared to a survey of weeds in sweet corn more than 40 yr ago, greater use of herbicides is associated with reductions in weed density by approximately an order of magnitude; however, 57% of fields appeared to suffer yield loss due to weeds. Sweet corn harvest in the NCR ranges from July into early October. Earlier harvests were characterized by some of the highest weed densities, while late-emerging weeds such as eastern black nightshade occurred in fields harvested after August. Fall panicum, giant foxtail, wild-proso millet, common lambsquarters, and velvetleaf were the most abundant species across the NCR, yet each state had some unique dominant weeds.
Nomenclature: Common lambsquarters, Chenopodium album L. CHEAL; eastern black nightshade, Solanum ptychantum Dunal. SOLPT; fall panicum, Panicum dichotomiflorum Michx. PANDI; giant foxtail, Setaria faberi Herrm. SETFA; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medic. ABUTH; wild-proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L. PANMI; sweet corn, Zea mays L