Effects of water stress and application timing on glyphosate activity in forest trees

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Virginia Tech


Field and greenhouse studies were conducted to investigate the role of water stress and time of glyphosate spraying in the variation in glyphosate efficacy. Data on water potential, foliar sugar and starch content, weather, and growth response were gathered for loblolly pine and four of its major competitors on 16 operationally sprayed tracts in Virginia. Glyphosate successfully released loblolly pine on all tracts. Control of white oaks was significantly related to foliar sugar concentration. Water potential and weather variables were not related to glyphosate efficacy for any species.

Seedlings of loblolly pine, red maple, and sweetgum were raised in a greenhouse and nursery environment. At the end of the second growing season, three water stress treatments were imposed on each species at each of four glyphosate application dates. ¹⁴C-glyphosate was applied to a subsample of seedlings. Timing of application. water stress, or both significantly affected susceptibility of all three species to glyphosate. Efficacy for all three species corresponded to that expected from field data. Differences in species susceptibility to glyphosate were explained by differences in ¹⁴C-glyphosate translocation, but there was no difference among species in absorption of glyphosate. Efficacy changes across application dates followed seasonal changes in foliar sugar concentration.