Field studies were conducted to determine the possible rate and timing of nicosulfuron to suppress annual ryegrass (ARG) seeded as a cover crop at the time of corn planting without affecting corn performance near Ridgetown, ON, Canada, in 2016 and 2017. Nicosulfuron was applied at rates from 0.8 to 50 g ai ha–1when the ARG was at the two- to three- or fourto five-leaf stages, or approximately 3 or 4 wk after emergence of both corn and ARG. There were no differences between the two application timings in grain yield responses or ARG suppression. As the rate of nicosulfuron increased from 0.8 to 50 g ai ha–1, ARG was suppressed 6% to 76% and 5% to 96%, at 1 and 4 wk after application (WAA), respectively. At 4 WAA, ARG biomass decreased from 29 to 1 g m–2as the rate of nicosulfuron increased from 0.8 to 50 g ai ha–1, compared to 36 g m–2in the untreated control. Where nicosulfuron was not applied to ARG, grain corn yield was reduced by 6% compared to the ARG-free control; similar effects on corn yield were observed with nicosulfuron at the lowest rate applied at 0.8 g ai ha–1. Grain corn yield was reduced by 2.5% with the application of nicosulfuron at 25 g ai ha–1 (label rate for corn) compared to no ARG control, but this was not statistically significant. This study identified rates of nicosulfuron that suppressed ARG when emerged approximately the same day as corn, but there was evidence that grain corn yields were lowered because of interference, possibly during the critical weed control period. Based on this study, an ARG cover crop should not be seeded at the same time as corn unless one is willing to accept a risk for corn grain yield losses for the sake of the cover crop.
Nomenclature: Nicosulfuron; annual ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum Lam.; corn, Zea mays L.