Maize response to broadcast flaming at different growth stages: Effects on growth, yield and yield components

Santiago M. Ulloa, Avishek Datta, Chris Bruening, Brian Neilson, Jared Miller, George Gogos, Stevan Z. Knezevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Weed management is a major constraint in organic crop production. Propane flaming could be an additional tool for weed control in organic maize (Zea mays L.) production. However, tolerance of maize to broadcast flaming must be determined first to optimize the use of propane. Field experiments were conducted at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory of the University of Nebraska, Concord, NE in 2008 and 2009 to determine maize response to five propane doses applied at three growth stages of V2 (2-leaf), V5 (5-leaf) and V7 (7-leaf). The propane doses tested were 0, 13, 24, 44 and 85kgha-1. Flaming treatments were applied utilizing a custom built research flamer mounted on the back of a four-wheeler moving at a constant speed of 6.4kmh-1. The response of maize to propane flaming was evaluated in terms of visual crop injury (1, 7, 14 and 28 days after treatment-DAT), effects on dry matter (14 DAT), yield components (plantsm-2, earsplant-1, kernelscob-1 and 1000-kernel weight) and grain yield. The response of different growth stages of maize to propane doses was described by log-logistic models. Overall, maize response to broadcast flaming varied among growth stages and propane doses. In general, maize at V5 was the most tolerant stage for broadcast flaming, whereas V2 stage was the most susceptible to flaming resulting in the highest visual crop injury ratings, dry matter reductions and the largest loss of yield and its components. At 28 DAT, the maximum visual crop injury rating of 7% was estimated for flaming done at V5 stage compared to significantly higher injuries of 43% and 12% for V2 and V7 growth stages, respectively. An arbitrarily assigned 2.5% yield reduction was evident with 33, 16 and 11kgha-1 of propane for V5, V2 and V7 growth stages, respectively, suggesting that maize flamed at V5 stage can tolerate higher dose of propane for the same yield reduction compared to other growth stages. Moreover, the maximum yield reductions with the highest propane dose of 85kgha-1 were 3% for V5, 11% for V7 and 17% for V2 stage. Based on these results, flaming has a potential to be used effectively in organic maize production when conducted properly at V5 stage. However, there are both benefits and concerns associated with the use of flame weeding. The preservation of the soil from erosion and the protection of the surface and underground water from chemical pollution can be seen as benefits, while the concerns include higher energy use, and the release of greenhouse gasses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • CO emission
  • Crop tolerance
  • Dose-response curves
  • Energy use
  • Life cycle analysis (LCA)
  • Non-chemical weed control
  • Organic crop production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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