Weed of the Month: Velvetleaf

  • velvetleafCommon name: velvetleaf
  • Scientific name: abutilon theophrasti1
  • Grass or broadleaf: large-seeded broadleaf
  • Found in 48 U.S. states (not found in Alaska or Hawaii)1
  • Germination timing: summer annual
  • Competitiveness: Velvetleaf can be competitive in corn and soybeans due to the rapid and robust growth pattern of the plant. An individual mature plant can shade out 1 to 2 square feet of soil, closing the canopy and blocking sunlight crops need. If sunlight is restricted, corn and soybean yield can greatly diminish, according to Eric Scherder, Ph.D., field scientist, Dow AgroSciences.
  • Studies have shown that when velvetleaf emerges at the same time as soybeans at a density of one plant per foot of soybean row, a 14 to 27 percent yield reduction can occur.2

Fast facts from Dave Hilger, Enlist field specialist, Ph.D., Dow AgroSciences: 

  • Velvetleaf has numerous seed reserves that can remain dormant for years. As a result, velvetleaf can germinate throughout the season and is known to make a late-summer appearance in row crop systems.
  • Left uncontrolled, velvetleaf can grow up to 10 feet tall.
  • There are cases of atrazine-resistant velvetleaf in the Midwest, which can make it difficult to control in cornfields.
  • Velvetleaf is easy to identify with heart-shaped cotyledons and leaf patterns. The plants also have a high number of fine hairs that feel velvety to the touch.
  • Velvetleaf is often referred to as “buttonweed” because the seed head looks similar to a button.

Resistance statistics:*

According to WeedScience.org, the following states have reported herbicide-resistant velvetleaf in cropland, corn and soybean fields:

*Resistance confirmation does not necessarily include all weeds and may vary among different areas of each state.

Weed management tips:

Scherder says:

  • Velvetleaf has a high level of calcium relative to other weed species, which can make it difficult to control if herbicides are used at less than optimum rates. The presence of calcium in or on the leaf surface can result in inactive herbicide applications.
  • Follow label directions and rates to not only understand what effective rate is needed to control velvetleaf, but also to determine potential adjuvants or tank-mix partners that may be needed to improve efficacy and herbicide performance.
  • If planting Enlist crops, use a program approach with a preemergence herbicide such as Sonic® soybean herbicide or Resicore® corn herbicide followed by a postemergence application of Enlist Duo® herbicide to effectively control velvetleaf for the duration of the season.

Dow AgroSciences weed control solutions:


SureStart® II herbicide
Resicore® herbicide
Keystone® NXT herbicide
Keystone® LA NXT herbicide

FulTime® NXT herbicide
Surpass® NXT herbicide 
Durango® DMA® herbicide
Duramax® herbicide
Enlist Duo® herbicide, as part of the Enlist weed control system


Sonic® herbicide
Surveil® herbicide
Durango® DMA® herbicide
Duramax® herbicide
Enlist Duo® herbicide, as part of the Enlist weed control system

Additional information:

More information can be found through these weed science resources:

1U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Conservation Service. 2016. Plant Profile: Velvetleaf. http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ABTH
2University of Missouri. A highly competitive weed with a soft touch. 2015. http://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2015/5/Weed-of-the-Month-Velvetleaf/

®™Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT and Keystone NXT are federally Restricted Use Pesticides. Enlist Duo herbicide is not yet registered for use on Enlist cotton. Duramax, Durango DMA, Enlist Duo, FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT, Keystone NXT, Resicore, Sonic, SureStart II, Surpass NXT and Surveil are not registered for sale or use in all states. FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT, Keystone NXT, Resicore, SureStart II and Surpass NXT are not available for sale, distribution or use in Nassau and Suffolk counties in the state of New York. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.