Source: University of Nebraska

Recent severe hail events in parts of Nebraska have left some fields with tremendous yield loss from hail stones beating down corn plants, knocking ears from plants, or shelling seed from the cob. Corn ears or seed that cannot be harvested may become a significant weed problem in the subsequent crop. For example, if a field was going to produce 175 bu/ac, and severe hail damage resulted in a 50 percent yield loss, there may be up to 7.1 million seed per acre on the ground as shelled seed or whole ears (assuming 81,000 seeds in a bushel and a 88 bu/ac yield loss). Of course, the number of viable seeds will be reduced before spring planting by fall germination, predation by insects and mammals, and fungal diseases. However, there will still be many viable seeds the following spring.

A warm moist fall will encourage germination of volunteer plants and the first hard freeze will control them. Neither herbicide control nor tillage is recommended for control of volunteer plants in the fall. Shallow tillage in the fall or spring may "plant" the seed, increasing the problem in the subsequent crop. At a recent meeting of Extension weed scientists, a colleague described a situation where a producer had significant fall harvest loss of a Roundup Ready corn variety. The producer did his normal tillage (field cultivation) the following spring and planted the field to Roundup Ready corn shortly afterward. While the tillage did kill emerged volunteer corn, it also "planted" other volunteer seeds, resulting in a Roundup Ready volunteer corn population of approximately 500,000 plants per acre. There was no way to remove the volunteer plants from the planted Roundup Ready corn crop and the producer eventually had to destroy his first planted crop.

Original news release