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Think Early Control for Volunteer Corn

Managing volunteer corn in soybeans will prove challenging for many growers in Eastern Canada in 2019.
The need to control volunteer corn is nothing new, but a troublesome 2018 harvest across Ontario and Quebec will make it tougher this year, says Steve Johns, agronomic sales representative with Syngenta Canada. Growers in many parts of Ontario battled an epidemic of Gibberella ear rot in corn resulting in unprecedented DON levels. To help manage the problem, combine settings were adjusted at harvest to help blow out diseased kernels. In some cases, fields were simply combined with the kernels being blown onto the ground.
In Quebec, Syngenta’s agronomic sales representative Eric Boulerice explains that growers wrestled with harvesting a very dry crop in poor late-season weather conditions that produced a lot of dropped cobs and kernel loss before the crop entered the combine. Like Ontario, Boulerice says many soybean fields will have much higher corn kernel populations that will germinate and produce volunteer corn management headaches in 2019.
Don’t put IP premiums in danger
It’s vitally important that growers control these volunteers in IP soybean crops, says Boulerice. “If there are too many kernels in the sample, you could lose the premium and opportunities in the export market.” He adds that volunteer corn will also create pain when combining Roundup® Ready soybeans and even greater problems for seed production as the presence of corn kernels in seed lots is frowned upon by seed companies.
“If you’re growing IP soybeans, controlling volunteer corn should be top of mind,” says Johns. But it should be a concern for all growers when they see the corn plants emerging in their soybean crop. Johns notes that research from South Dakota State University shows that volunteer corn density of 5,000 plants/acre can reduce soybean yields by 20% — that’s a 12 bu/ac yield loss in 60 bu/ac soybeans. Yield damage can be even more extensive in parts of a field where high numbers of dropped ears produce clumps of volunteer corn.
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