There are several preplant and preemergence residual herbicides available for corn. It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of each product in terms of the spectrum of weeds controlled.

For burndown applications in a no-till system on emerged grass and broadleaf weeds, an application of glyphosate and a product containing dicamba or 2,4-D may be critical. The choice between 2,4-D and dicamba will depend on wee d species present. Dicamba products will be more effective on kochia and marestail. 2,4-D is more effective on winter annual mustards. The use of preemergence herbicides often provide control of weeds for several weeks. This can greatly improve the effectiveness of a postemerge herbicide application, and give the producer more leeway on post application timing.

Soil-applied residual herbicides for corn can be grouped into several basic categories.

Acetamides and acetamide/atrazine premixes. The main acetamide products used in corn include acetochlor, flufenacet, S-metolachlor, and dimethamid-P, and many premix products containing one of these four active ingredients. In general, these products are very effective in controlling grasses (except Johnsongrass and shattercane) and small-seeded broadleaf weeds such as pigweeds. They are much less effective in controlling kochia which is small-seeded or large-seeded broadleaf weeds such as cocklebur, devilsclaw, morningglory, sunflower, and velvetleaf. There have been no cases of weed populations in Kansas developing resistance to acetamides to date. 

These products are most effective when applied with atrazine. Several atrazine/acetamide premixes are available and should be used instead of acetamides alone unless atrazine is not allowed. In past years, often because of cost, reduced rates of these products were applied to help manage heavy summer annual grass pressure, then followed up with a good postemergence herbicide program. With the increased occurrence of glyphosate- and other herbicide-resistant weeds, the use of reduced/setup rates greatly increases the risk of unacceptable control. 

In fields with normal weed and grass infestations (no herbicide resistance problems), a reduced-rate of an acetamide/atrazine premix product applied preemerge, followed by a postemerge application can still do a good job. The purpose of the low-rate preemerge treatment is to kill the easy weeds (common annual grasses and pigweeds), get corn off to a head start, keep the weed infestation manageable, and buy time for the post application.

HPPD-inhibitors. Examples of HPPD-inhibitors are isoxaflutole (e.g. Balance Flexx, Corvus, and Prequel) and mesotrione (e.g. Callisto, Lexar, Lumax). These products either contain atrazine or should be applied with atrazine, and are excellent on kochia, pigweeds, velvetleaf, and many other broadleaf weeds. Lexar, Lumax, and Corvus+atrazine will provide the best control of grass weeds. Corvus will also control shattercane. Balance Flexx has activity on shattercane but is less consistent than Corvus. Prequel has a low rate of Balance mixed with Resolve and will not provide the same level of residual control as Lexar, Lumax, Balance Flexx or Corvus used at full rates. Keep in mind, products containing Balance should not be applied to coarse-textured soils when the water table is less than 25 feet below the soil surface. Balance Flexx is variable on sunflower. Corvus will be much better than Balance Flexx, provided the sunflower is not ALS resistant.  

Also, herbicides containing clopyralid such as Hornet, TripleFlex, or Surestart will provide very good control of sunflower. Callisto, a component in Lexar or Lumax, has the same mode of action as Balance or Corvus but has less activity on grass weeds, thus if applied preemergence it should be applied with an acetamide and atrazine.

Triazine. Atrazine is a common component of many preplant and preemergence herbicide premixes for corn. Where weed pressure is light, a March application of atrazine with crop-oil concentrate and 2,4-D or dicamba can control winter annual weeds such as mustards and marestail and provide control of most germinating weeds up to planting. It is essential to add glyphosate to the mix if winter annual grasses are present. In a premix with other herbicides, atrazine adds burndown control of newly emerged grasses and broadleaf weeds present near planting time, as well as some residual control of small-seeded broadleaf weeds such as pigweeds and kochia (except for triazine-resistant populations).

PPO-inhibitors. Examples of PPO-inhibitors include flumioxazin (e.g. Valor, Fierce), and saflufenacil (Sharpen, Verdict). Valor or Fierce must be applied 7 days before corn planting in a no-till system. These herbicides provide excellent control of pigweeds; however, they are marginal on kochia. Fierce will provide improved control of velvetleaf compared to that from Valor. The addition of atrazine will enhance kochia, pigweed, velvetleaf, and morningglory control, provided the populations are not triazine-resistant.  Sharpen and Verdict have excellent activity on pigweeds, kochia, and large seeded broadleaf weeds, however, length of residual is relatively short compared to other preemergence products when all are compared at full rates.

ALS-inhibitors. Examples of ALS-inhibitors for use as a soil-applied herbicide for corn include flumetsulam (Python) and Hornet, which is a premix of flumetsulam and clopyralid. Both herbicides have broadleaf activity only. These products are strong on large-seeded broadleaf weeds such as cocklebur, sunflower, and velvetleaf, or the small-seeded common lambsquarters. Adding Hornet to a full rate of an acetamide/atrazine mix as a preemerge treatment will control the annual grasses and add considerably to large-seeded broadleaf weed control. Sunflower appears to be most sensitive to Hornet, followed closely by cocklebur and velvetleaf. Morningglory is less sensitive. Depending on weed species present, control may be improved enough that a postemerge treatment is not needed. 

An additional ALS-inhibiting herbicide from DuPont is called Resolve. Also a component in Prequel, which was previously mentioned, Resolve will provide short residual of grass and broadleaf weeds and should be used as a setup herbicide with a good postemergence weed control program. Keep in mind, if ALS-resistant broadleaf weeds are present, these ALS-containing herbicides often will be less effective.

New products for 2012

There are three new herbicides labeled for corn in 2012.

  • Zidua, from BASF, contains a new active ingredient, pyroxasulfone, which is in the acetamide family. The pyroxasulfone provides excellent residual control of annual grasses, has some activity on shattercane, excellent activity on pigweeds, and very good activity on velvetleaf. When combined with atrazine, this product will be very competitive with other acetamide/atrazine premixes. Although registered, this product may not be available for corn planting in 2012.
  • Fierce is a premix of the new active ingredient pyroxasulfone and Valor. This Valent product, because of the Valor component, must be applied to corn 7 days before planting at a 3 oz rate. The Valor component in Fierce will provide improved broadleaf activity over Zidua alone.
  • Anthem, from FMC, is a premix of pyroxasulfone and Cadet. This product will give similar residual weed control as Zidua. However, Anthem will provide some postemergence activity on limited broadleaf weed species when applied postemergence. This product currently is not registered but registration is expected sometime during 2012.