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Corn Growth Stage and Herbicides Applied Postemergence

Posted 5/10/2017
When choosing a herbicide or tank mix combination to be applied POST, growers need to consider the weed species present, weed heights, and the corn growth stage.

Importance of Corn Growth Stage

When choosing a herbicide or tank mix combination to be applied POST, growers need to consider the weed species present, weed heights, and the corn growth stage. Taller corn is generally more sensitive to potential herbicide injury, particularly when nozzles are applying the spray directly into the whorl of the plant. Drop nozzles can be used in taller corn to help provide better weed coverage and prevent spraying directly into the whorl.

Herbicide product labels provide directions for over-thetop broadcast and directed drop nozzle applications in corn. Labels provide a maximum corn growth stage after which broadcast applications should not be made (Table 1). In glyphosate-tolerant corn, Roundup® brand glyphosate-only agricultural herbicides can be applied broadcast up to the V8 growth stage or 30-inch tall corn, and up to 48-inch tall corn when using drop nozzles. Some labels also indicate the minimum corn growth stage before which applications should not be made. For example, Status® can be applied only after corn is 4 inches tall, and Capreno® can be applied only after the V1 growth stage.

Growth stages on herbicide product labels are usually indicated as a particular corn leaf stage or plant height, and sometimes both are listed. The growth stage that is most restrictive should be followed when both corn leaf stage and height are listed on the label. When using a tank mixture, follow the recommendations for the most restrictive label language of the products being used in the tank mix.

Table 1. Application restrictions for selected herbicides applied postemergence in corn.

*Applied in glyphosate-tolerant corn only. Where both height and leaf or growth stage are provided, use the most restrictive classification. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR THE HERBICIDE PRODUCT.
Herbicide Product Maximum corn heights and/or leaf stages
Roundup® brand glyphosate-only agricultural herbicides* V8 or 30″ 30-48″ with drop nozzles
Banvel®/Clarity® 8″ or 5-leaf using 16 oz/a rate use 8 oz/a rate at 8-36″
2,4-D 8″ (use drop nozzles if over 8″)
atrazine 12″
Harness®/Harness® Xtra/Harness® Xtra 5.6L/Degree Xtra® 11″
Warrant® Herbicide 30″
TripleFLEX® II Herbicide 11″
Marksman® 8″
Distinct® 4-10″ using 6 oz/a rate
10-24″ using 4 oz/a rate
24-36″ drop nozzles and 4 oz/a rate
Basis® V2 (do not apply to > 6″ tall corn)
Hornet® 20″ or V6
20-36″ using drop nozzles
Status® 4″ (V2) – 36″ (V10)
Stinger® 24″
IMPACT® Up to 45 days of corn/silage harvest
Laudis® V8
Callisto® V8 or 30″
Balance® Flexx V2
Corvus® V2
Capreno® V1-V5
Accent® 20″ or V6
20-36″ using drop nozzles
Resolve® 12″ or V6
Option® V1-V6; V6-V8 using drop nozzles
Permit®/Yukon® 36″
Python® 20″ or V6
Aim®/Shark® V8; V8-V14 using drop nozzles
Resource® V2-V10
Figure 1. Corn plant in the V3 growth stage showing 3 visible leaf collars and a plant height of 6 inches measured from the soil surface.
Figure 1. Corn plant in the V3 growth stage showing 3 visible leaf collars and a plant height of 6 inches measured from the soil surface.

Plant height is determined by measuring from the soil surface to the arch of the uppermost leaf that is more than 50% emerged (Figure 1). Plant height may not be an accurate determination of growth stage, because adverse environmental conditions can result in corn plants that are physiologically older than their height suggests.

Corn leaf stage is determined by counting collars when leaves emerge from the whorl and a band is formed around the stem (Figure 1). Leaves that are just emerging from the whorl will not have a visible collar and are not counted. Leaf stages are designated using a “V” (vegetative) to represent each leaf during vegetative development. The first true leaf on corn is the short, rounded leaf near the soil surface which is counted as V1. Each successive, visible leaf collar is counted as V2, V3, and all the way to V18 which is prior to tasseling. As corn plants grow, the lower leaves can die or tear away, making it difficult to accurately count the collars. To stage older plants, dig up the plant and split the stalk down into the root ball. Find the triangular “woody” base of the stalk and locate the first internode above the base. The woody, horizontal node is the point of attachment for the fifth leaf or collar. For example, if you can count 5 visible leaf collars above this point, the corn plant is in the V10 growth stage.

POST Application Considerations

  • The type and amount of corn injury from a POST application beyond the labeled window for the herbicide(s) can be dependent on the herbicide(s), the exact timing of application, and environmental stress.
  • Environmental conditions influence the absorption of POST-applied herbicides and potential crop tolerance. Corn under stress may not metabolize some herbicides quickly enough to avoid crop injury. Cool temperatures and wet soils can slow the growth of corn and alter its development. Warm, humid conditions promote rapid absorption, while cool and dry conditions may slow the crops development. Corn can become more responsive to herbicides due to changes in the leaf cuticle that may allow greater absorption.
  • Spray additives can increase the rate of herbicide uptake by the crop. Injury symptoms resulting from spray additives include chlorotic mottling or necrosis of leaves, and may only be temporary as the crop recovers. Herbicide product labels should be followed regarding spray additives that are recommended.
  • Herbicide residues from previous applications may remain in the spray tank causing contamination. This contamination could cause unwanted interaction with the herbicides applied to corn.
  • POST-applied herbicide Injury symptoms can include leaf chlorosis or necrosis, onion leafing, internode stacking, rat tailing, ear pinching, ear bottlenecking, brace root malformation, and green snap. Corn ear development can be affected if POST-applied herbicides are applied late in the growing season. Therefore, it is important to follow the corn growth stage restrictions on the herbicide product labels.