Diminishing weed control exacerbates maize yield loss to adverse weather

Christopher A. Landau, Aaron G. Hager, Martin M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both weed interference and adverse weather can cause significant maize yield losses. However, most climate change projections on maize yields ignore the fact that weeds are widespread in maize production. Herein, we examine the effects of weed control and weather variability on maize yield loss due to weeds by using machine learning techniques on an expansive database of herbicide efficacy trials spanning 205 weather environments and 27 years. Late-season control of all weed species was the most important driver of maize yield loss due to weeds according to multiple analyses. Average yield losses of 50% were observed with little to no weed control. Furthermore, when the highest levels of weed control were not achieved, drier, hotter conditions just before and during silking exacerbated maize yield losses due to weeds. Current climate predictions suggest much of the US maize-growing regions will experience warmer, drier summers. This, coupled with the growing prevalence of herbicide resistance, increases the risk of maize yield loss due to weeds in the future without transformational change in weed management systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6156-6165
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change
  • herbicide efficacy
  • machine learning
  • maize (Zea mays)
  • weather variability
  • weed interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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