Volunteer corn results from ear and kernel losses in the field the previous season. Ears may drop for a number of reasons, including genetic weakness of the ear attachment, drought stress, and corn borer feeding in the ear shank. Ears may also be lost on plants that are severely lodged or may randomly bounce off the corn head. Kernel losses result from shelling at the corn head, incomplete threshing of cobs, or combine adjustments that allow kernels to be lost out the back of the combine. Growers are encouraged to follow the suggestions below to prevent glyphosate-tolerant volunteer corn in their soybean fields.
Check the link below or your local extension website for information on measuring and pinpointing harvest losses, and adjusting combines to minimize losses.
If harvest losses are extremely severe, growers may attempt to germinate lost corn in the fall. A light tillage operation that puts much of the remaining corn kernels and ears into the top one to three inches of soil can stimulate grain to germinate and then die out in the winter. This approach should be reserved to areas where soil erosion is not a problem and the soil is still warm enough for corn to germinate. Otherwise, it is best to leave the field alone and no-till the soybean crop the next spring. No-tilling allows wildlife to forage the seed during the winter and eliminates spring soil disturbance. Soil disturbance in the spring can cause lost grain to be planted and germinate and grow with the soybeans.
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