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Reprinted with permission from: Penn State Cooperative Extension Circular. Revised 1999.

17 pgs.
Published and copyrighted by: The Pennsylvania State University 1996.

Introduction to Weeds and Herbicides

Professor of Weed Science, Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, University Park, PA

(*Article begins on following page.)

Page 1 of 17
Introduction to
Weeds and Herbicides

College of Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension


his circular provides basic information on weeds
and herbicides for farmers, crop-improvement asso-
ciation scouts, turf management specialists, nursery
specialists, foresters, roadside vegetation specialists,
and other crop production or vegetation management special-
ists. The information is important for anyone making recom-
mendations or using herbicides for weed control. In addition,
it can be used by extension and commercial personnel in
preparing weed-control and pesticide update training programs.

Information is given on the growth habit of weeds and their

spread by both seed and vegetative structures. Included is a
discussion of seed dormancy, how it prevents seed germination
when conditions are not favorable, and how it helps weed seed
survive for up to 100 years in the soil.

Herbicides are classified by family (chemical structure), mode

of action, and time and method of application. Classification
by family will make it easier to understand the characteristics
of individual herbicides, because herbicides of the same family
usually work the same way. Understanding a herbicides mode
of action will clarify why that herbicide must be applied at
certain times of the year, how it kills or suppresses weeds, and
why certain weeds are not affected by certain herbicides.
Knowing a herbicides mode of action is also helpful in
planning a weed control program to avoid repeated use of
herbicides with the same mode of action, so the potential for
herbicide resistance buildup is reduced. A herbicides formula-
tion dictates how the chemical will be applied, its compatibil-
ity with other chemicals and carriers, and its relative safety to
the applicator. Herbicides have also been grouped according to
their toxicity level.


A plant with more undesirable character-

istics than virtues is considered a weed. It Names
may be native to an area or introduced
from other parts of the country or world. All plants have a scientific name and a
About 60 percent of our worst weeds were common name. The first word of the
introduced from some other part of the scientific name, always capitalized, is the
world. genus. The second word is the species
name. The genus and species are always
In general, weeds are: written in italics or underlined. Cyperus
able to grow and survive under unfavor- esculentus, for example, is the scientific
able conditions, to persist and reproduce name for yellow nutsedge.
almost anywhere
competitive and aggressive, capable of Common names of plants differ from
surviving in competition with almost any place to place. For example, Elytrigia
crop repens is called quackgrass by the Weed
wild and rank, producing dense thickets Science Society of America, wiregrass by
or vines that crowd out or cover up more Pennsylvanians, and couchgrass by
desirable species Canadians and Britons. Although
resistant to control and tolerant of scientific names are awkward for general
herbicides, tillage, or cultural control use, they are preferred in scientific
methods, because they have biochemical literature to avoid confusion. Calling
tolerance or extensive root or rhizome weeds by their common names is easier,
systems with large carbohydrate reserves but efforts to standardize common names
abundant, existing in dense have been only partly successful.
populations; prolific seed producers
spontaneous, establishing from seed that Weeds cost Pennsylvanians at least $125
may have been dormant for many years or million each yearmore than $100
from parts of roots or rhizomes million in field and forage crops, $10
easily spread because seeds have special million in horticultural crops, and over
structures that aid dispersal by wind, $15 million in noncropland areas. Weeds
water, or animals (especially birds) can host insects, nematodes, disease-
useless and undesirable, without forage causing fungi, and viruses. They also
value for livestock or food value for compete with crops and interfere with
humans, wild animals, or birds planting, harvesting, and machinery
harmful to people, animals, or crops; efficiency. Some simply detract from the
may cause allergies in people, be poison- beauty of the landscape.
ous to people and animals, be parasitic or
toxic to crops
unsightly, dominant, aggressive, or
unattractive in association with other
plants Weeds reproduce by sexual or asexual
means. Sexual reproduction occurs by
seed and is the only way summer or winter
annuals and biennials can reproduce.

Asexual reproduction is achieved through innate dormancy, and once lost, this type soil pores and exclude air, limiting
vegetative meansrunners, roots, or of dormancy cannot reoccur. germination in very wet soils. Or soil
rhizomes. Once established, most perenni- compaction may reduce the oxygen supply
als (Canada thistle, hemp dogbane, Induced dormancy is a temporary and prevent seeds from germinating. Deep
horsenettle, etc.) spread by roots; dormancy that occurs when a seed is plowing, tillage, or hoeing can bring
quackgrass, johnsongrass, and wirestem exposed to hot or cold temperatures. It buried seeds to the surface where they
muhly spread by rhizomes. continues after temperatures change and readily germinate upon exposure to
prevents germination during the wrong oxygen.
Some weed seeds are distributed by time of year. The dormancy is broken by
natural forces like wind and water. temperatures opposite those which
Dandelion and thistle seeds are adapted induced it. Viability
for wind dispersal. Others can float for a
short time, and some are small enough to Summer heat induces dormancy in Burning fields to destroy weed seeds gives
be carried long distances by water. summer annual weeds like yellow foxtail varying results, depending on heat
and pigweed, preventing germination in intensity and duration. Many common
Seeds may be dispersed by animals. Barbed the fall. Fall and winter cold breaks this weed seeds are destroyed upon exposure to
seeds, like those of burdock and cocklebur, dormancy (usually by Christmas), and the very high temperatures (175 to 212F)
become attached to animal hair. Some seeds germinate in spring when conditions for 15 minutes. But if the burning creates
seeds are eaten by domestic animals and are right. In winter annual weeds, the only moderate heat for a short time, it
passed through their digestive tracts, process is reversed. may break the dormancy of many seeds.
returned to the soil, and able to again Burning may stimulate germination
infest fields. Johnsongrass seed, for Dormancy can be induced in many weed because of higher soil temperatures, more
example, was introduced near feedlots by seeds when a crop canopy filters sunlight, light, less competition, and less litter.
beef calves from the South and then shading the ground and reducing germina-
spread to surrounding fields. Weeds are tion. Dormancy can be induced over and Mowing weeds is often recommended to
spread by birds when intact seeds pass over again for as long as the seed remains prevent seed production, but success
through their digestive tracts. Multiflora viable. depends on proper timing. Mowing before
rose, mulberry, bitter nightshade, and flower buds form often prevents produc-
mile-a-minute are commonly spread this Enforced dormancy takes place when tion of viable seed, but some plants, such
way. environmental conditionscold tempera- as dandelion and perennial sowthistle, can
tures, lack of moisture or oxygen, and produce viable seed after the flower stalk
Most weed seeds are spread by people. occasionally a high salt concentration in has been removed.
Farmers and marketers move weed seeds the soilare unfavorable. When limita-
from one location to another in agricul- tions are removed, seeds germinate freely. Heat and organic acids in stored silage kill
tural products like grain, hay, and straw. Summer annual weed seeds lose their most weed seeds in 10 to 20 days. Some
Farmers move seeds around in machinery, induced dormancy by Christmas and, seeds, however, can germinate after four
especially balers and combines. With except for the cold temperatures, would years in silo storage.
tillage equipment, they drag tubers of germinate at that time.
nutsedge or rhizomes of quackgrass and Spreading fresh manure can distribute live
johnsongrass from field to field. Seeds of different weed species have weed seed, but manure stored in a slurry
various temperature requirements for tank for six months is generally free of
germination. Common chickweed can living seeds. About 90 percent of the
Dormancy germinate under snow cover, while weed seeds fed to cattle in hay or grain are
common purslane will not germinate until destroyed by the digestive system. By
Dormancy is a survival mechanism that the soil temperature reaches 70 to 75F. grinding feed in its gizzard, a chicken
prevents seeds from germinating when Crop seeds generally are planted at or near destroys about 99 percent of any weed
conditions for survival are poor. It may be the optimum soil temperature needed for seeds in the feed. As a result, chicken
innate, induced, or enforced dormancy. quick germination, a temperature that is manure usually has fewer weed seeds than
also ideal for some weed seeds. cattle manure.
Innate dormancy inhibits germination at
the time seeds are shed from the plant. Seeds require water for germination. Seeds
After the seed shatters from the parent in dry soils may remain dormant when all
plant, time is required for immature other factors promoting germination are
embryos to develop, natural inhibitors to favorable.
leach out, or extremes of temperature to
crack hard seed coats and allow germina- Oxygen availability also influences a
tion to occur. These conditions cause seeds ability to germinate. Water may fill


Herbicides are chemicals used to kill linuron (Lorox, Linex)

plants or interrupt normal plant growth. siduron (Tupersan)
These chemicals can be classified by (1) tebuthiuron (Spike)
similarity of chemical structure, (2) mode
of action, (3) time of application, or (4) B. Aromatic carboxylic acids
method of application. 1. Phenoxy herbicides
2,4-D (various)
2,4-DB (Butyrac 200, Butoxone)
Chemical structures 2,4-DP, dichlorprop (various)
MCPA (various)
A. Aliphatic nitrogen derivatives MCPB (Thistrol)
1. Acid amides MCPP, mecoprop (various)
acetochlor (Harness, Surpass, Topnotch) 2. Benzoic acids
alachlor (Lasso, Partner) dicamba (Banvel, Clarity, Vanquish)
dimethenamid (Frontier) 3. Phthalic acids
flufenacet (Axiom) DCPA (Dacthal)
isoxaben (Gallery) 4. Pyridines
metolachlor (Dual, Pennant) clopyralid (Stinger, Transline)
napropamide (Devrinol) dithiopyr (Dimension)
pronamide (Kerb) picloram (Tordon)
propachlor (Ramrod) triclopyr (Garlon)
propanil (Stam)
2. Amino acids C. Aryloxyphenoxypropionates
glufosinate (Liberty, Finale) diclofop-methyl (Hoelon)
glyphosate (Roundup Ultra, Rodeo) fenoxaprop-ethyl (Acclaim, Whip)
sulfosate (Touchdown) fluazifop-P-butyl (Fusilade DX)
3. Carbamothioates haloxyfop-methyl (Verdict)
butylate (Sutan), butylate + safener quizalofop-P-ethyl (Assure II)
cycloate (Ro-Neet) D. Cyclohexanediones
EPTC (Eptam) clethodim (Select)
EPTC + safener (Eradicane) cycloxydim (Focus, Laser)
molinate (Ordram) sethoxydim (Poast)
pebulate (Tillam)
thiobencarb (Bolero) E. Dinitroanilines
triallate (Avadex BW, Far-Go) benefin (Balan)
vernolate (Vernam) ethalfluralin (Sonalan)
4. Phenyl carbamates oryzalin (Surflan)
asulam (Asulox) pendimethalin (Prowl, PreM, Pentagon)
desmedipham (Betanex) prodiamine (Barricade)
phenmedipham (Spin-Aid) trifluralin (Treflan)
5. Ureas
diuron (Karmex) F. Heterocyclic nitrogen derivatives
fluometuron (Cotoran) 1. Benzothiadiazoles
bentazon (Basagran)

2. Diphenyl ethers prometryn (Caparol) Systemic herbicides

acifluorfen (Blazer) simazine (Princep) Systemic, or translocated, herbicides are
fomesafen (Flexstar, Reflex) 11. Triazolinones absorbed by roots or leaves after applica-
lactofen (Cobra) carfentrazone (Aim) tion and distributed throughout the plant.
oxyfluorfen (Goal) sulfentrazone (Authority) Most herbicides are systemic and do not
3. Imidazolinones 12. Uracils kill weeds by contact action; others work
imazamethabenz (Assert) bromacil (Hyvar X) by contact action (see p. 8).
imazamox (Raptor) terbacil (Sinbar)
imazapic (Cadre, Plateau) 13. Other heterocyclic nitrogen derivatives Herbicides that regulate growth
imazapyr (Arsenal, Chopper) amitrole (Amitrol-T) Phenoxys:
imazaquin (Scepter, Image) 2,4-D MCPA
imazethapyr (Pursuit) G. Methanearsonates 2,4-DB MCPB
4. Isoxazolidinones CAMA (Super Dal-E-Rad-Calar) 2,4-DP MCPP
clomazone (Command) DSMA (Ansar 8100) Benzoic acids:
isoxaflutole (Balance) MSMA (Ansar 6.6, Bueno 6, Daconate, dicamba (Banvel, Clarity, Vanquish)
5. N-phenylphthalimides Weed-hoe, Weed-E-Rad) Pyridines:
flumiclorac (Resource) cacodylic acid (Phytar 560) clopyralid (Stinger, Transline)
fluthiacet-methyl (Action) picloram (Tordon)
6. Pyridazinones H. Benzonitriles triclopyr (Garlon)
cloridazon/pyrazon (Pyramin) bromoxynil (Buctril)
norflurazon (Evital, Solicam, Zorial) dichlobenil (Casoron, Dyclomec, These herbicides produce responses
pyridate (Tough) Norosac) similar to those of natural growth-
7. Pyrazolium and Bipyridyliums regulating substances called auxins.
difenzoquat (Avenge) I. Nonclassified organic herbicides Application of artificial auxins, such as
diquat (Valent Diquat) bensulide (Betasan, Prefar) 2,4-D, upsets normal growth as follows:
paraquat (Gramoxone Extra, Cyclone) chloropicrin (Picfume, Larvicide 100, Cells of leaf veins rapidly divide and

8. Sulfonamides Clor-O-Pic) elongate, while cells between veins cease

flumetsulam (Broadstrike, Python) chloropicrin + methyl bromide (Brom-O- to divide. This results in long, narrow,
cloransulam-methyl (Firstrate) Gas, Dowfume) strap-like young leaves.
9. Sulfonylureas diesel oil Water content increases, making

benzsulfuron-methyl (Londax) endothall (Aquathol, Endothal, treated plants brittle and easily broken.
chlorimuron-ethyl (Classic) Hydrothol) Cell division and respiration rates

chlorsulfuron (Glean, Telar) ethofumesate (Prograss) increase, and photosynthesis decreases.

halosulfuron (Battalion, Permit) fosamine (Krenite) Food supply of treated plants is nearly
metsulfuron-methyl (Ally, Escort) fluridone (Sonar) exhausted at their death.
nicosulfuron (Accent) kerosene Roots of treated plants lose their ability

oxasulfuron (Expert) metham (Vapam) to take up soil nutrients, and stem tissues
primisulfuron-methyl (Beacon) methyl bromide (Meth-O-Gas) fail to move food effectively through the
prosulfuron (Peak) oxadiazon (Ronstar) plant.
prosulfuron + primisulfuron-methyl Stoddard solvent
(Exceed, Spirit) The killing action of growth-regulating
rimsulfuron (Matrix) J. Nonclassified inorganic herbicides chemicals is not caused by any single
rimsulfuron + thifensulfuron-methyl sodium metaborate (Ureabor) factor but results from the effects of
(Basis) sodium tetraborate (Polybor) several disturbances in the treated plant.
sulfometuron-methyl (Oust) sodium chlorate (Sodium Chlorate)
thifensulfuron-methyl (Pinnacle) Injury symptoms. Broadleaved plant
thifensulfuron + tribenuron-methyl leaves become crinkled, puckered, strap-
(Harmony Extra) Modes of action shaped, stunted, and malformed; leaf veins
triasulfuron (Amber) appear parallel rather than netted, and
tribenuron-methyl (Express) Mode of action is defined as the entire stems become crooked and brittle, with
triflusulfuron (UpBeet) sequence of events from introduction of a shortened internodes. In grasses (e.g.,
10. Triazines herbicide into the environment to the corn), new leaves do not unfurl but
ametryn (Evik) death of plants. It is the sum total of all remain tightly rolled in onion-like
atrazine (various) the disruptions in biochemical reactions fashion, and stems become brittle, curved,
cyanazine (Bladex) and/or cell membrane integrity that or crooked, with short internodes. A lesser
hexazinone (Velpar) directly or indirectly affect normal plant effect is the fusion of brace roots noticed
metribuzin (Lexone, Sencor) growth and development. later in the season.
prometon (Pramitol)

Herbicides that inhibit amino acid and Plants become straw-colored several days desmedipham (Betanex)
protein synthesis or weeks after treatment, gradually turn phenmedipham (Spin-Aid)
Amino acids: brown, and die. Pyridazinones:
glufosinate (Liberty, Finale) Sublethal doses of glyphosate may cause cloridazon/pyrazon (Pyramin)
glyphosate (Roundup Ultra, Rodeo) growth hormone effects such as twisted norflurazon (Evital, Solicam, Zorial)
sulfosate (Touchdown) stems and feather-like leaves, especially pyridate (Tough)
Imidazolinones: noticeable on grapes. Grass leaves may fail Substituted ureas:
imazamethabenz (Assert) to unfold, resulting in an onion-like diuron (Karmex)
imazamox (Raptor) appearance. fluometuron (Cotoran)
imazapic (Cadre, Plateau) linuron (Lorox, Linex)
imazapyr (Arsenal, Chopper) Herbicides that inhibit fatty acid tebuthiuron (Spike)
imazaquin (Scepter, Image) (lipid) biosynthesis Triazines:
imazethapyr (Pursuit) Aryloxyphenoxypropionates: ametryn (Evik)
Sulfonamides: diclofop-methyl (Hoelon) atrazine (various)
flumetsulam (Broadstrike, Python) fenoxaprop-ethyl (Acclaim, Whip) cyanazine (Bladex)
cloransulam-methyl (FirstRate) fluazifop-P-butyl (Fusilade DX) hexazinone (Velpar)
Sulfonylureas: quizalofop-P-ethyl (Assure II) metribuzin (Lexone, Sencor)
benzsulfuron-methyl (Londax) Cyclohexanediones: prometon (Pramitol)
chlorimuron-ethyl (Classic) clethodim (Select) prometryn (Caparol)
chlorsulfuron (Glean, Telar) cycloxydim (Focus, Laser) simazine (Princep)
halosulfuron (Battalion, Permit) sethoxydim (Poast) Uracils:
metsulfuron-methyl (Ally, Escort) terbacil (Sinbar)
nicosulfuron (Accent) These herbicides are rapidly absorbed by bromacil (Hyvar X)
oxasulfuron (Expert) grasses and are translocated to the Other chemistry:
primisulfuron-methyl (Beacon) growing points, where they inhibit amitrole (Amitrol-T)
prosulfuron (Peak) meristematic activity, stopping growth bentazon (Basagran)
prosulfuron + primisulfuron-methyl almost immediately. They are most fluridone (Sonar)
(Exceed, Spirit) effective on warm-season grasses such as propanil (Stam)
rimsulfuron (Matrix) johnsongrass, shattercane, corn, fall
rimsulfuron + thifensulfuron-methyl panicum, giant foxtail, crabgrass, and wild In the presence of light, green plants
(Basis) proso-millet. Cool-season grasses like produce sugar from carbon dioxide and
sulfometuron-methyl (Oust) quackgrass, annual and perennial ryegrass, water. Energy is needed for carbon,
thifensulfuron-methyl (Pinnacle) orchardgrass, timothy, and small grains are hydrogen, and oxygen atoms to rearrange
thifensulfuron + tribenuron-methyl not as sensitive. For example, diclofop and form sugar. To supply this necessary
(Harmony Extra) (Hoelon) is safe for use on winter wheat energy, electrons are borrowed from
triasulfuron (Amber) and barley and is labeled for annual grass chlorophyll (the green material in leaves)
tribenuron-methyl (Express) control in these crops in the northwestern and replaced by electrons split from water.
triflusulfuron (UpBeet) United States. If chlorophyll electrons are not replaced,
the chlorophyll is destroyed and the
These herbicides work by interfering with Injury symptoms. Growing points are plants food manufacturing system breaks
one or more key enzymes that catalyze the killed first, with the resulting death of the down. For lack of energy, the plant slowly
production of specific amino acids in the leaves inner whorl. Older outer leaves of starves to death.
plant. When a key amino acid is not seedlings appear healthy for a few days
produced, the plants metabolic processes and those of perennials for a couple of Bromoxynil, phenyl carbamate,
begin to shut down. The effect is like that weeks, but eventually they also wither and pyridazinone, substituted urea, triazine,
of an assembly line worker not doing his die. After several weeks the growing and uracil herbicides all block chlorophyll
or her job. Different herbicides affect points begin to rot, allowing the inner electron replacement. As preemergence
different enzymes that catalyze the leaves to be pulled out of the whorl. treatments, these herbicides permit
production of various amino acids, but the Sensitive grasses commonly turn a normal seed germination and seedling
result is generally the samethe shut- purplish color before dying. emergence, but cause seedlings to lose
down of metabolic activity with eventual their green color soon afterward. With the
death of the plant. Herbicides that inhibit photosynthesis seeds food supply gone, the seedlings die.
Benzonitriles: These herbicides are more effective on
Injury symptoms. Plants sensitive to bromoxynil (Buctril) seedling weeds than on established
these herbicides stop growth almost Isoxazolidinones: perennial weeds.
immediately after foliar treatment; clomazone (Command)
seedlings die in two to four days, estab- isoxaflutole (Balance) Injury symptoms. In broadleaved plants,
lished perennials in two to four weeks. Phenyl carbamates: early seedling growth appears normal, but

shortly after emergence (when energy Herbicides in this group cause abnormal Membrane disrupter (contact)
reserves in cotyledons are depleted), cell development or prevent cell division herbicides
leaves become mottled, turn yellow to in germinating seedlings. They stop the Contact herbicides kill weeds by destroy-
brown, and die. Amitrole, clomazone, plant from growing by inhibiting cell ing cell membranes; they appear to burn
isoxaflutole, and norflurazon inhibit division in the shoot and root tips, while plant tissues within hours or days of
chlorophyll formation and the plants permitting other cell duplication processes application. Total coverage is necessary
gradually become white (albino). to continue. Then follows a slow decline for maximum activity. Some are foliar
in plant vigor. they must be applied to a plants foliage
Grasses germinate and grow normally because they are inactive in soil, and
until energy reserves in the seed are Injury symptoms. The leaves of weeds are controlled only through this
depleted (two-leaf or three-leaf stage); broadleaved plants turn dark green, initial contact. Foliar-applied contact
then the leaves turn light green to white become wrinkled, and fail to unfold from herbicides are:
and the seedling dies. the bud. The roots become shortened, Bipyridyliums:
thickened, brittle, and club-like. Germi- paraquat (Gramoxone Extra, Cyclone)
Herbaceous and woody perennials starve nating grasses normally do not emerge. If diquat (Valent Diquat)
very slowly, because they have large they do, young leaves fail to unfold, Diphenyl ethers:
energy reserves in roots or rhizomes to live resulting in leaf looping and an onion-like acifluorfen (Blazer)
on while photosynthesis is inhibited. The appearance. The tip of the terminal leaf fomesafen (Flexstar, Reflex)
herbicide may have to effectively inhibit becomes rigid, not free-flapping (flag- lactofen (Cobra)
photosynthesis for a full growing season to like). N-phenylphthalimides:
kill trees or brush. This kind of kill may be flumiclorac (Resource)
slow, but it is sure. The dinitroanilines prevent cell division fluthiacet-methyl (Action)
primarily in developing root tips and are Nonselective oils:
Herbicides that inhibit seedling effective only on germinating grasses and kerosene
growth some dicots. fuel oil
Acid amides: Dinitroanilines: diesel oil
acetochlor (Harness, Surpass, Topnotch) benefin (Balan) Selective oils:
alachlor (Lasso, Partner) ethalfluralin (Sonalan) Stoddard solvent
dimethenamid (Frontier) oryzalin (Surflan) Other chemistry:
flufenacet (Axiom) pendimethalin (Prowl, PreM, Pentagon) ametryn (Evik)
isoxaben (Gallery) prodiamine (Barricade), bentazon (Basagran)
metolachlor (Dual, Pennant) trifluralin (Treflan) bromoxynil (Buctril)
napropamide (Devrinol) Other chemistry: difenzoquat (Avenge)
pronamide (Kerb) bensulide (Prefar, Betasan) endothall (Endothal, Aquathol,
propachlor (Ramrod) DCPA (Dacthal) Hydrothal)
propanil (Stam) siduron (Tupersan) linuron (Lorox)
Carbamothioates: pyridate (Tough)
butylate (Sutan) Injury symptoms. Seeds of treated Methanearsonates:
butylate + safener (Sutan+) broadleaved plants germinate but either CAMA (Super Dal-E-Rad-Calar)
cycloate (Ro-Neet) fail to emerge, or they emerge as severely DSMA (Ansar 8100)
EPTC (Eptam) stunted seedlings that have thickened, MSMA (Ansar 6.6, Bueno 6, Daconate,
EPTC + safener (Eradicane) shortened lower stems, small leaves, and Weed-hoe, Weed-E-Rad)
molinate (Ordram) short, club-shaped roots. Interestingly, cacodylic acid (Phytar 560)
pebulate (Tillam) seedlings of taprooted plants such as
thiobencarb (Bolero) soybeans and alfalfa are not affected, nor The following herbicides may be foliar or
triallate (Avadex BW, Far-Go) are established plants with roots more soil applied and continue to give residual
vernolate (Vernam) than a couple inches deep commonly control for several weeks or months after
Phenyl carbamates: affected. application.
asulam (Asulox) Diphenyl ethers:
desmedipham (Betanex) Grass seeds germinate but generally fail to oxyfluorfen (Goal)
phenmedipham (Spin-Aid) emerge. Injured seedlings have short, Triazolinones:
Benzonitriles: club-shaped roots and thickened, brittle carfentrazone (Aim)
dichlobenil (Casoron, Dyclomec, stem tissue. Seedlings die from lack of sulfentrazone (Authority)
Norosac) moisture and nutrients because of the Other chemistry:
Other Chemistry: restricted root system. oxadiazon (Ronstar)
dithiopyr (Dimension) Inorganic herbicides:
sodium chlorate (Sodium Chlorate)

sodium borate (Polybor) chloropicrin + methyl bromide(Dowfume, Directed: applied between the rows of
mixture of sodium chlorate and borate Brom-O-Gas) crop plants with little or no herbicide
metham (Vapam) applied to the crop foliage
Injury symptoms. All contact herbicides methyl bromide (Meth-O-Gas) Spot treatment: applied to small weed-
cause cellular breakdown by destroying infested areas within a field
cell membranes, allowing cell sap to leak Injury symptoms. Vapors of soil fumi-
out. Some may also inhibit photosynthe- gants commonly penetrate soil 4 to 6
sis. If conditions do not allow a quick kill inches and kill weeds, weed seeds, Formulations
by contact, a secondary effect of paraquat, nematodes, fungi, and insects. These are
diquat, linuron (Lorox), ametryn (Evik), the only herbicides that effectively kill Herbicides are not sold as pure chemicals
and pyridate (Tough or Lentagran) is the dormant weed seeds. Weeds already but as mixtures or formulations of one or
inhibition of photosynthesis by oxidizing present soon turn brown and die. Since more herbicides with various additives.
chlorophyll and causing a buildup of toxic weed seeds are killed, no new weeds will Surfactants (emulsifiers, wetting agents)
materials. The result is rapid death of invade the area until weed seed is reintro- or various diluents may increase the
treated tissues. The activity of these duced. Some deeply buried weed seed may effectiveness of a pure herbicide. The type
herbicides is delayed in the absence of survive the treatment and will germinate of formulation determines toxicity to
light. if brought to the surface. plants, uniformity of plant coverage, and
stability in storage. Herbicides are
Soil sterilants formulated to permit uniform and easy
Soil sterilants are nonselective chemicals Times of application application as liquid sprays or dry
that keep the soil free of vegetation for granules.
one or more years. Many herbicides can The following terms describe herbicides
be used as soil sterilants if applied at very based on when they are applied. Liquid sprays
high rates. Preplant incorporated: applied to soil and Solutions are homogeneous mixtures of
Organic herbicides: incorporated before crop is planted. two or more substances. A solution may
bromacil (Hyvar X) Example: butylate (Sutan+) on corn. be either clear or colored and cannot be
imazapyr (Arsenal, Chopper) Preplant: applied to soil before crop is separated by mechanical means. An
prometon (Pramitol) planted. Example: Lasso or Dual on example is 2,4-D amine dissolved in
monuron + borax (Ureabor) soybeans. water.
tebuthiuron (Spike) Preemergence: applied after crop is

Inorganic herbicides: planted but before it emerges. Example: Emulsions are formed when one liquid is
sodium chlorate (Sodium Chlorate), atrazine on corn. dispersed in another, as 2,4-D esters
sodium borate (Polybor) Postemergence: applied after crop dispersed in water. Emulsions appear
mixture of sodium chlorate and borate emerges. Example: dicamba (Banvel) on milky when dispersed in water, and the
corn. liquids may separate without agitation.
Injury symptoms. Organic soil sterilants
are all photosynthetic inhibitors and Although these terms normally refer to Micro-encapsulated formulations are tiny,
produce symptoms as described above. application in relation to crops, they may ball-shaped capsules created when
Inorganic herbicides are contact herbi- also imply application in relation to chemical reactions between two polymers
cides that kill plant tissue in a few hours weeds. Always be certain whether cause them to form a skin around a
or days. The residue remains in the soil to reference is being made to the crop or to liquid. These capsules are then dispersed
provide continued weed control for up to the weed. In no-till situations, it is in water. When added to more water in
two or more years. possible for an herbicide application to be the spray tank, the whole mixture appears
preplant or preemergence to the crop, but milky and the encapsulated herbicide may
Soil fumigants postemergence to weeds. Some herbicides, separate without agitation. Such formula-
Soil fumigants are highly toxic, volatile such as alachlor (Lasso) or napropamide tions include Lasso Micro-Tech and
liquids or gases used to control soil pests. (Devrinol), must be preplant or preemer- Topnotch.
Most fumigants must be released under a gence to the weed for maximum activity.
gas-tight cover to prevent vapor escape. Wettable powders are finely divided, solid
After 24 to 48 hours, the cover can be particles that may be dispersed and
removed and the remaining gases allowed Methods of application suspended in water. Suspensions of
to escape. After 48 hours to two weeks, all wettable powders appear cloudy. Wettable
vapors will dissipate, leaving no biologi- The following terms refer to the ways powders are nearly insoluble and require
cally active residue. herbicides can be applied. agitation to remain in suspension.
Organic herbicides: Broadcast: applied over the entire field Atrazine and linuron are formulated as
chloropicrin (Picfume, Larvicide 100, Band: applied to a narrow strip over the wettable powders.
Clor-O-Pic) crop row

Dry flowables or water-dispersible Disadvantages: Fill the sprayer tank with at least half
granules are wettable powders formed into heavy or bulky materials that are the volume of water or fertilizer solution
prills so they pour easily into the sprayer troublesome to store or ship you will ultimately need.
tank without clumping and producing a small granules are subject to drift Start moderate agitation and keep it
cloud of dust. Nearly insoluble, they application is not as uniform as that of going.
require agitation to remain in suspension. sprays Add compatibility agents if needed. For
Atrazine and linuron are also formulated maximum benefit, they must be in the
as dry flowables. Pellets solution before herbicides are added. (To
Pellets are like granules but are com- determine pesticide compatibility, see the
Flowables or water-dispersible liquids are pressed into larger cylinders about 1/4 next section.)
wettable powders already suspended in inch long. Herbicides formulated as Add, mix, and disperse dry herbicides
water so they can be poured or pumped pellets usually contain from 5 to 20 (wettable powders, dry flowables, or water
from one tank to another. Flowables are percent active material and are hand- dispersible granules). These formulations
nearly insoluble in water and require applied to control clumps of brush. They contain wetting and dispersing agents that
agitation to remain in suspension. also may be applied with cyclone-type aid in mixing.
Atrazine and linuron are also formulated spinner spreaders mounted on helicopters Add liquid flowables and mix thor-
as flowables. or aircraft for brush control in forests or oughly. Liquid flowables also contain
permanent pastures. Pellets gradually wetting and dispersing agents.
Fumigants are gases at room temperature break down from rainfall and leach into Add emulsifiable concentrates (ECs) or
when not pressurized. They commonly the soil for root uptake. micro-encapsulated herbicides and mix
come as liquids in pressurized containers thoroughly.
as, for example, liquid ammonia. The Mixing and applying Finish by adding water soluble formula-
liquid must be injected or released under a Be aware that improper sprayer calibra- tions (2,4-D amine, etc.).
gastight tarp to prevent its being lost to tion, nonuniform application, calculation Add any surfactants and crop oil
the air. Specialized application equipment errors, or use of the wrong chemicals can concentrates last. Crop oils, especially, do
is required. cause herbicide injury to the crop. not mix and disperse well if added first.
Add the remainder of water or liquid
Premixes are not formulations but two or Apply only the recommended amount of fertilizer and maintain agitation until tank
more herbicides mixed by the manufac- herbicide. Slight increases in rates could is empty.
turer. The actual formulation can be any result in crop injury or leave residues that
of those discussed above and commonly might injure succeeding crops. Caution: Never mix concentrated
combines two or more herbicides that are herbicides in an empty tank. Never allow
used together anyway. The primary reason Recalibrate sprayers frequently to adjust a sprayer containing mixed chemicals to
for using premixes is convenience. Since for increased output resulting from normal stand without agitation, because heavy
1980, about 50 premixes have been nozzle wear. Be sure there is sufficient wettable powders may clog nozzles or
released for use on corn and soybeans, and agitation in the sprayer tank to prevent settle into corners of the sprayer tank
the future will surely bring more. settling of wettable powders, dry where they are difficult to remove.
flowables, or flowables.
Granules Compatibility
Herbicides in granular formulations are Do not stop in the field with the sprayer Pesticides are not always compatible with
applied dry with a carrier. The carrier may on, spill herbicide when loading, or dump each other or with the water or liquid
be fertilizer, clay, lime, vermiculite, or unused herbicides in anything except a fertilizer carrier. Lack of compatibility may
ground corn cobs. The performance of holding tank. only result in the formation of a jell,
granulated herbicides, compared with that precipitate, or sludge that plugs up screens
of sprayable formulations, varies with the Take the following steps when mixing and nozzles. However, extreme incompat-
herbicide. Granular forms generally herbicides: ibility may produce a settling out of
require more rainfall for activation than material that can harden like concrete in
do sprayable formulations. 1. Always be sure the sprayer has been the bottom of the tank and in hoses,
calibrated properly for application at pumps, and other internal parts of the
Advantages: recommended rates. sprayer. The result may be total loss of the
water is not needed for application 2. Calculate the amount of herbicide to pesticide and use of the sprayer.
equipment required for application is add to the sprayer tank based on the
relatively inexpensive active material in each gallon of herbicide Herbicides may be combined with liquid
selectivity may be improved because concentrate, or the percentage of active fertilizers to minimize trips over the field.
granular particles fall off leaves and sift ingredient of dry herbicide formulation. However, little information exists
through crop canopy to the ground 3. Read and follow the instructions on the concerning the compatibility of herbicides
manufacturers label pertaining to per- with specific fertilizer solutions. Herbi-
sonal hazards in handling. cide-fertilizer solution combinations may

form a jell or precipitate that settles to the Table 1. Compatibility agent rate per 100 If the components are not dispersed in
bottom of the sprayer tank or will not flow gallons for use in 1 pint of solution. either jar, the herbicide-carrier mixture is
through the sprayer equipment. Compatibility Ml of (A) per Tea- not compatible and should not be used.
agent (A) rate pint of carrier spoonsa
Tank-mixing several pesticides, although 1 pt/100 gal 0.6 ml 1/8 Should the herbicide-carrier mixture
convenient, may create other problems. prove compatible in this test procedure, it
Foliar activity may be enhanced and could 2 pt/100 gal 1.2 ml 1/4 may be applied to the field. Wettable
result in crop leaf burn, or the activity of 3 pt/100 gal 1.8 ml 3/8 powders that settle slightly and readily
one or more of the pesticides may be remix with shaking can be kept in
4 pt/100 gal 2.4 ml 1/2
reduced (antagonism). suspension if vigorous agitation is main-
aOne teaspoon = 4.93 ml. tained in the sprayer.
To prevent the main water tank or liquid-
fertilizer measuring tank from becoming
contaminated, commercial applicators Table 2. Dry pesticide rates for compatibil- Herbicide selectivity
may want to mix the herbicides and other ity test.
ingredients in a separate holding tank. Gallons of Teaspoons of wettable Were it not for the fact that most herbi-
The herbicide mixture is then sucked into carrier to be powder pesticide to be cides can be applied just before crop
the main line as the truck tank is being applied per added per pint of liquid planting or emergence and even over the
acre carriera top after crop emergence without exces-
filled, and thorough mixing is provided by
the trucks agitation system. Compatibility (gal) (1 lb/A) (2 lb/A) (4 lb/A)
sive injury, herbicides would be of little
problems are more likely to result when value. Most of the herbicides labeled for
concentrated herbicides are mixed 10 3.5 7.1 14.2 use today will selectively remove some of
together, so a compatibility test should be 20 1.8 3.5 7.1 the weeds without injuring the crop.
done before new mixtures are tried. Selectivity is accomplished primarily by
40 0.9 1.8 3.5 two methods: selectivity by placement
Use only labeled tank mixtures or 60 0.6 1.2 2.4 and true selectivity.
mixtures recommended by experienced
aOne teaspoon = 1.6 gram based on an 80 percent Selectivity by placement
scientists whose recommendations are
wettable powder formulation.
backed by research. For all unlabeled tank Selectivity accomplished by avoiding or
mixtures, a jar test for compatibility is minimizing contact between the herbicide
strongly recommended. The compatibility Table 3. Liquid pesticide rates for compat- and the desired crop is called selectivity
ibility test. by placement. An example is wiping or
of herbicide-fertilizer combinations should
be tested before large batches are mixed. Gallons of Teaspoons of wettable directing a herbicide like glyphosate on a
In some cases, adding a compatibility carrier to be powder pesticide to be weed without exposing the desired plant.
applied per added per pint of liquid Selectivity by this means is as good as any,
agent (Compex, Unite, or comparable acre carriera
surfactants) may aid in maintaining as long as the excess herbicide is not
component dispersion. (gal) (1 qt/A) (2 qt/A) (4 qt/A) washed off the weeds and leached into the
root zone where it might be root absorbed.
10 2.4 4.8 9.6 Selectivity by placement also is accom-
The following two-jar test may be used
to test the compatibility of herbicides 20 1.2 2.4 4.8 plished when a herbicide that does not
with each other or herbicides and other leach readily is applied to the soil surface
40 0.6 1.2 2.4
pesticides with liquid fertilizers. for control of shallow rooted weeds but
60 0.4 0.8 1.6 does not leach into the root zone of a
1. Add 1 pint of carrier (water, liquid more deeply rooted crop such as fruit trees
aOne teaspoon = 4.93 ml. or established alfalfa.
fertilizer) to each of two quart jars.
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of compatibility
agent to one jar (equivalent to 2 pints per nondispersible oils, all of which may True selectivity
100 gallons of spray solution). (Table 1) indicate incompatibility. Selectivity that is true tolerance as a result
3. Add the required amount of pesticide If, after standing for 30 minutes, the of some morphological, physiological, or
to each jar (Tables 2 and 3) in the order components in the jar with no compat- biochemical means is referred to as true
suggested in step 3 above for tank-mixing ibility agent are dispersed, the herbicides selectivity. The herbicide can be applied
herbicides. Shake well after each addition are compatible and no compatibility agent to the foliage of the crop or to soil in
to simulate continuous agitation. is needed. which the crop is growing without danger
4. When all ingredients are added, shake If the components are dispersed only in of injury. Although true tolerance may be
both jars for 15 seconds and let stand for the jar containing the compatibility the best type of selectivity, it is not
30 minutes or more. Then, inspect the agent, the herbicide is compatible only if perfect. Such things as crop growth stage,
mixture for flakes, sludge, gels, or a compatibility agent is added. cuticle thickness, hairiness of the leaf
surface, location of the growing point, air

temperature and humidity, spray droplet rapidly metabolize both the herbicide and cabinet or storeroom, away from food or
size, and the surface tension of spray insecticide, so the Accent or Beacon feed.
droplets all can influence herbicide causes corn injury. Metabolic insensitivity Do not store herbicides with other

activity. When conditions are ideal for or the ability to metabolize the herbicide pesticides; avoid the danger of cross-
herbicide activity, even true selectivity usually are the best types of true tolerance. contamination.
may not adequately prevent crop injury. Be sure to triple rinse all empty con-

tainers before disposing of them in an

Morphological differences include such approved landfill.
plant characteristics as size and orienta- Safe herbicide use If you suspect poisoning, contact your

tion of the leaf, waxiness or hairiness of nearest Poison Control Center, hospital
the leaf surface, location of the growing Use herbicides only when necessary, only emergency room, or physician. Take the
point, and rooting depth. Generally, the at recommended rates and times of pesticide label with you and give it to the
more waxy or hairy the leaf surface, the application, and only for those crops and attending physician.
more difficult it is for a foliar applied uses listed on the label. Correct use is
herbicide to penetrate. The more pro- essential to ensure that chemical residues Livestock
tected the growing point (as in grasses), on crops do not exceed the limits set by Herbicides sprayed on plants generally are
the less likely it is that foliar herbicides law. Recommended herbicides do not not toxic to livestock, but animals can be
will reach the growing point. The more generally injure people, livestock, wildlife, poisoned by eating unused herbicides left
deeply rooted the crop is, the more or crops if used properly and if recom- in open containers or by drinking water
difficult it is to get a soil applied herbicide mended precautions are observed. contaminated with herbicides.
to the crop roots and the less likely that However, any herbicide is potentially
there will be sufficient uptake for injury. dangerous if improperly handled or used. Certain unpalatable or poisonous plants
treated with herbicides may become
Physiological differences include differen- Follow these basic pesticide safety palatable to livestock. Be certain that
tial herbicide uptake across the plasma procedures: livestock cannot get to poisonous plants
lemma, differential translocation of Make sure that you are familiar with that have been sprayed with herbicides.
herbicides within the plant, combining current federal and state pesticide laws
with some component within the cell and regulations and that you have a The nitrate content of several kinds of
wall, complexing with something in the license, if required. weeds may increase after they have been
cell cytoplasm, or channeling the herbi- Avoid drift of spray or dust that may sprayed with 2,4-D, Banvel, or similar
cide into sinks where the herbicide will endanger other crops or animals. Cover herbicides. Cattle browsing on these
have no effect. These factors all can feed pans, troughs, and watering tanks in treated plants may become ill. Remove all
contribute to tolerance but any one factor livestock areas. Protect beehives. animals from sprayed areas for several days
seldom will provide tolerance by itself. To protect yourself and others, follow or until it has rained or the weeds have
all safety precautions on the label. Know died.
Metabolic factors include genetic insensi- and observe the general rules for safe
tivity due to an altered site of herbicide pesticide use, and record the date, time, Game and fish
action that prevents herbicide activity. location, and amount of each pesticide Controlled spraying may benefit wildlife
Roundup Ready soybeans produce an used. by maintaining desirable cover. Herbicides
excess of the enzyme that Roundup Wear protective clothing and use recommended for control of aquatic weeds
normally inhibits, so Roundup Ready protective equipment according to usually have beneficial results for fish
soybeans are not affected, even though instructions on the pesticide label. populations. Be sure to apply these
normal amounts of the herbicide are Never eat, drink, or smoke while herbicides properly. Do not drain or flush
absorbed by the crop plant. Corn plants applying pesticides. equipment where chemicals may wash
metabolize and convert atrazine to an Avoid spilling spray materials on skin or into ponds or streams, and do not leave
innocuous metabolite so rapidly that the clothing. If such an accident occurs, wash open containers where curious animals
herbicide does not have time to inhibit immediately with soap and water. might find them.
photosynthesis, which provides crop Bathe after applying pesticides and

tolerance as long as the metabolic system change into freshly laundered clothing. Crop safety
is not overwhelmed by an excess of the Wash clothing after applying pesticides, Farmers are occasionally concerned about
pesticide or a combination of pesticides. keeping in mind that, until laundered, possible herbicide injury to crops. Most
In the case of corn treated with an such clothing must be handled according injuries of this kind are caused by misuse,
organophosphate insecticide and followed to the same precautions as the pesticide contaminated equipment, or drift.
with a post treatment of Accent or itself. Wash pesticide-contaminated Unfavorable weather conditions com-
Beacon, both the insecticide and herbi- clothing apart from other laundry, and bined with herbicide residues from a
cide are being metabolized by the same take care in disposing of the wash water. previous crop planting can potentially
pathway. This pathway is unable to Store pesticides in their original injure crops.
containers in a locked, properly marked

Cleaning contaminated equipment Drift may injure sensitive crops, ornamen- direction could result in serious damage. If
Sprayers used to apply 2,4-D-type herbi- tals, gardens, livestock, wildlife, or people, possible, do not apply pesticides when
cides can be used to apply other chemicals and may contaminate streams, lakes, or wind speed is greater than 5 mph.
before crops are planted or before crop buildings. It may contaminate crops and
plants emerge, but this equipment must be cause illegal or intolerable residues. High temperatures increase the loss of
thoroughly cleaned before applications are Excessive drift may mean poor perfor- volatile herbicides. Esters of 2,4-D rapidly
made on emerged crops (except grasses). mance in the desired spray area because evaporate at temperatures above 80F.
Ester formulations are harder to remove the application rate is lower than The use of such ester formulations should
than amine or salt formulations. expected. be restricted to fall, winter, and early
To remove esters, flush out the entire spring, because sensitive plants are not
system with a water-detergent solution Highly active chemicals present the present, and because lower temperatures
immediately after spraying. Then fill the greatest drift hazard, because extremely reduce vapor drift hazard.
tank and prime the system with an small amounts can cause severe problems.
ammonia solution of 1 gallon of house- For example, growth-regulating herbicides Drift control should be considered with
hold ammonia to 100 gallons of water, such as 2,4-D, dicamba, and picloram, at a each pesticide application. You can
and leave it undisturbed for 12 to 24 rate of 1 ounce per acre, can deform prevent severe drift problems by:
hours. Take the nozzles apart and soak the sensitive crops such as tobacco, grapes, or using low volatile or nonvolatile
caps, screens, bodies, etc., in ammonia tomatoes. Vapor drift from Command that formulations
solution. (Five pounds of Sal soda or 8 has not been incorporated can cause using low spray delivery pressures (10-
pounds of trisodium phosphate can be bleaching of chlorophyll in sensitive 30 psi)
substituted for ammonia.) Rinse the plants within a quarter mile of using drift-control agents when spraying
system thoroughly with water and let it application. under less-than-ideal conditions
circulate through the sprayer. avoiding application of volatile chemi-

Vapor drift problems can often be avoided cals at high temperatures

After using amine or salt formulations or by using nonvolatile formulations. spraying when wind speed is low or
other liquid herbicides, clean the equip- Essentially, no vapor drift hazard is when the wind is blowing away from areas
ment by flushing the entire system with a involved in the use of amine formulations that should not be contaminated
water-detergent solution and rinsing with of 2,4-D. Soil incorporation of Command leaving border areas unsprayed if they
clean water. and a new micro-encapsulated formula- are near sensitive crops
tion greatly reduces vapor loss of this
Wettable powder residues must be herbicide.
removed immediately after use. Flush the Evaluating herbicide injury
entire system with clean water, then Particle drift depends on the size of the
remove the sprayer nozzles and clean any particle or droplet, and droplet size Insects, diseases, severe weather (hail,
residue from the screens. Rinse the system depends on pressure and nozzle design. lightning, drought, flooding), fertilizer
with a detergent solution followed by Very small particles of fog or mist present burn, and nutrient deficiencies are among
clean water. Replace the nozzles. (The the greatest drift hazard. To minimize the causes of symptoms often attributed to
herbicide label may suggest special particle drift, calibrate equipment to herbicide injury. Cool, wet weather can
cleaning procedures.) create droplets about the size of light rain. increase the potential for injury, particu-
Most nozzles can be adjusted to a pressure larly with preemergence herbicides. When
To test for residual herbicide contamina- that permits droplet formation as a result evaluating crop injury, careful consider-
tion, spray a few plants of a susceptible of surface tension. If nozzles are operated ation of the following will help you
crop four to five days before using the at this pressure, a minimum of mist-sized diagnose the problem.
sprayer on large areas. droplets will be formed. For some nozzles,
this pressure may be as little as 10 psi; for 1. Pattern in the field of plant injury or
Drift others, it may be 30 psi. uncontrolled weeds.
Drift is the movement of any pesticide A pattern of injury that starts on one

through the air to areas not intended for The distance particles will drift increases side of an area and diminishes gradually
treatment. During application, droplet or with the height of release. Wind velocities and uniformly away from that area is
particle drift occurs as spray droplets or usually are lower close to the ground. typical of application drift.
dust particles are carried by air movement Therefore, sprays should be released as A pattern of injury occurring in

from the application area to other places. close to the soil surface or vegetation as irregular patches that follow air drainage
Vapor drift takes place after application, adequate coverage permits. could indicate herbicide volatilization and
as herbicides evaporate (volatilize) and movement of vapors.
yield fumes (gases) that are carried on Drift hazard usually is minimized if Strips of injured areas or surviving

wind currents and deposited on soils or prevailing winds are blowing away from weeds at predictable intervals indicate
plants in untreated areas. sensitive crops, but a sudden shift in wind possible skipping or overlapping

Poor control at the edges of a field can rapid herbicide breakdown. Microbial soil immediately after application reduces
result from only half coverage by the last degradation takes place primarily in the this kind of loss.
nozzle on the boom and/or more sunlight top foot of soil where microbial activity is
availability along the edge of the field. the greatest. Photodecomposition. Sunlight may
Injury limited to the end rows or ends inactivate herbicides, a factor that may
of the field is usually due to overlapping Runoff. Water moving over the surface of contribute to a decline in effectiveness of
applications or high herbicide rates where a field or treated area can carry herbicide unincorporated trifluralin (Treflan) and
you turn at the ends. with it. The greatest loss of herbicide benefin (Balan). Exposure to light for two
A definite break between the normal or occurs when the herbicide is applied to or more hours reduces the effectiveness of
uninjured part of the field and the rest of the soil surface and is washed off by the trifluralin and related herbicides, and can
the field usually indicates some major first rain after application. If the herbicide be avoided by soil incorporation.
difference in soil type or pH between the is incorporated or leached into the soil
two sides. with light rains or irrigation, most loss Plant uptake. Herbicides may be absorbed
A pattern of obvious over application as occurs only with erosion after the herbi- by plant roots or leaves and inactivated
indicated by bare ground (both crop and cide is adsorbed to soil particles. within the plant. This effect generally
weeds killed), followed by improved crop accounts for a relatively small amount of
survival and appearance with good weed Leaching. Water carries herbicides into herbicide removal, but in some cases, such
control, followed by lack of crop injury or and ultimately out of the root zone. The as atrazine, simazine, or cyanazine removal
weed control indicates inadequate or poor portion lost to leaching depends on soil by a healthy corn crop, the amount
agitation in the sprayer tank. The texture, herbicide solubility, and amount removed is significant.
evidence is even stronger if this pattern and intensity of rainfall. As a rule,
repeats itself at intervals that correspond herbicides leach most from sandy soils and Crop removal. If a crop is harvested or
to each new load. least from clay soils or soils high in removed from the treated area before rain
2. What is the history of the problem organic matter. has washed the herbicide off the foliage or
areafertility program, cropping se- before the plant has had time to metabo-
quence, land preparation, soil pH, soil Adsorption. After application, herbicides lize the residue, the herbicide will be
texture and organic matter, and seed may become adsorbed (bound) to clay and removed with the crop. This seldom
source? organic matter particles. The extent of happens, because herbicides are not
3. What was the temperature, moisture, adsorption increases as the percentage of commonly used close to harvest. However,
rainfall, and prevailing wind at and organic matter and/or clay increases. if grass clippings are collected shortly after
immediately following herbicide Adsorption reduces the amount of treatment and used to mulch a garden,
application? chemical available to plants and slows there may be enough herbicide on the
leaching. grass to damage the garden plants.

Persistence Chemical degradation. Herbicides may be

inactivated upon reaction with salts, Toxicity
The residual life or length of time a acids, and other substances in the soil.
herbicide persists in the soil is the length These reactions are affected by the same Toxicity usually is measured as LD50
of time it can be expected to control environmental factors that influence (lethal dose), which is the amount of a
weeds. Residual toxicity, if not considered, microbial breakdown. Chemical degrada- toxicant required to kill 50 percent of the
may injure the next crop planted in a tion can occur anywhere in the soil profile test animals. The lower the LD50, the less
herbicide-treated field. and is the primary process responsible for pesticide it takes to kill the animal. Below
herbicide dissipation below the top foot of is a list of the most commonly available
Inactivation, breakdown, and disappear- soil where microbial activity is limited or herbicides in order of decreasing oral
ance of herbicides are influenced by the nonexistent. toxicity.
following factors.
Volatilization. Some herbicides may be
Microbial degradation. Microorganisms rapidly lost as vapors after application.
feed on all types of organic matter, Loss as vapor reduces the persistence of
including organic herbicides. Some dinitroaniline and thiocarbamate herbi-
herbicides are more readily attacked by cides and of dichlobenil and Command.
microorganisms than others, often because The rate of vapor loss is influenced by soil
of minor differences in chemical structure moisture, temperature, and adsorption.
that permit rapid decomposition in some
cases and block decomposition in others. Evaporation of herbicides increases as
Soil temperature, aeration, pH levels, sand content, soil moisture, and soil
organic matter, and moisture levels temperature increase. Incorporation into
favorable for microbial growth promote

Highly toxic herbicides diclofop-methyl (Hoelon) ethofumesate (Prograss)

(LD50 < 50 mg/kg) dimethenamid (Frontier)d flumetsulam (Broadstrike, Python)
The probable lethal dose of a highly toxic diuron (Karmex)d flumiclorac (Resource)
herbicide for a 150-pound man is a few DSMA (Ansar 8100, Drexel DSMA)d fluometuron (Cotoran)
drops to 1 teaspoon. The label contains EPTC (Eptam)d fluthiacet-methyl (Action)
the signal words Danger/Poison and has EPTC + safener (Eradicane)d fomesafen (Flexstar, Reflex)
a skull and crossbones. fenoxaprop-ethyl (Acclaim, Whip)d fosamine (Krenite)
chloropicrin (Picfume, Larvicide100) fluazifop-P-butyl (Fusilade DX) glyphosate (Roundup Ultra, Rodeo)
chloropicrin + methyl bromide flufenacet (Axiom) halosulfuron (Battalion, Permit)
(Dowfume) fluridone (Sonar) imazamethabenz (Assert)
endothall (Endothal, Aquathol, glufosinate (Liberty, Finale) imazamox (Raptor)
Des-i-cate) hexazinone (Velpar)d imazapic (Cadre, Plateau)
metham (Vapam) linuron (Lorox)c imazapyr (Arsenal, Chopper)d
methyl bromide (Meth-O-Gas) MCPA (amine)d imazaquin (Scepter, Image)
sodium arsenitea,b MCPB (Thistrol) imazethapyr (Pursuit)
MCPP, mecoprop (various) isoxaben (Gallery)
Moderately toxic herbicides mefluidide (Embark, Vistar) isoxaflutole (Balance)
(LD50 = 50 to 500 mg/kg) metolachlor (Dual, Pennant) lactofen (Cobra)
The probable lethal dose of a moderately metribuzin (Sencor, Lexone) mefluidide (Embark, Vistar)
toxic herbicide for a 150-pound man is 1 molinate (Ordram) metsulfuron-methyl (Ally, Escort)
teaspoon to 1 ounce. The signal word on MSMA (Ansar 6.6, Bueno 6, Daconate, napropamide (Devrinol)
the label reads Warning. Weed-hoe, Weed-E-Rad)d nicosulfuron (Accent)
bromoxynil (Buctril) pebulate (Tillam) norflurazon (Zorial, Solicam)
copper sulfate (bluestone) prometon (Primatol)d oryzalin (Surflan)
cyanazine (Bladex) prometryn (Caparol)d oxadiazon (Ronstar)d
difenzoquat (Avenge) propachlor (Ramrod)c oxyfluorfen (Goal)
diquat (Valent diquat) propanil (Stam, Stampede) pendimethalin (Prowl or PreM)
endothal (Endothal dimethylamine salt) pyridate (Tough) phenmedipham (Betanal)
paraquat (Gramoxone Extra, Cyclone) quizalofop-P-ethyl (Assure II) prodiamine (Barricade)
sethoxydim (Poast) picloram (Tordon)
Slightly toxic herbicides sodium chlorated primisulfuron-methyl (Beacon)
(LD50 = 500 to 5,000 mg/kg) sulfentrazone (Authority) pronamide (Kerb)d
The probable lethal dose of a slightly tebuthiuron (Spike) prosulfuron (Peak)
toxic herbicide for a 150-pound man is 1 terbacil (Sinbar) prosulfuron + primisulfuron-methyl
ounce to 1 pint or 1 pound. The signal thiobencarb (Bolero) (Exceed)
word on the label reads Caution. triallate (Avadex BW, Far-Go) rimsulfuron + thifensulfuron-methyl
acetochlor (Harness/Topnotch) triclopyr (Garlon)d (Basis)
acifluorfen (Blazer)c vernolate (Vernam) siduron (Tupersan)
alachlor (Lasso)c simazine (Princep)
ametryn (Evik)c,d Almost nontoxic herbicides sodium borated
atrazine (various)d (LD50 > 5,000 mg/kg) sulfometuron-methyl (Oust)
bensulide (Betasan) The probable lethal dose of an almost thifensulfuron-methyl (Pinnacle)d
bentazon (Basagran) nontoxic herbicide for a 150-pound man thifensulfuron + tribenuron-methyl
butylate (Sutan+)d is more than 1 pint or 1 pound. The signal (Harmony Extra)
cacodylic acid (Phytar 560, Rad-E-Cate) word on the label reads Caution. triasulfuron (Amber)
CAMA (Super Dal-E-Rad-Calar) amitrole (Amitrol-T) trifluralin (Treflan)
clomazone (Command) asulam (Asulox) tribenuron-methyl (Express)
clopyralid (Stinger, Transline)c benefin (Balan)
cloridazon (Pyramin) benzsulfuron-methyl (Londax) Dermal response:
cycloate (Ro-Neet) bromacil (Hyvar X)d a is absorbed and poisonous
cycloxydim (Focus, Laser) chlorimuron-ethyl (Classic)d b causes burns and blisters
2,4-D (various) chlorsulfuron (Glean, Telar) c is moderately irritating
2,4-DB (Butyrac 200, Butoxone) clethodim (Select) d is mildly irritating
2,4-DP, dichlorprop (various) DCPA (Dacthal)
dicamba (Banvel, Clarity, Vanquish) desmedipham (Betanex)
dichlobenil (Casoron, Dyclomec, dithiopyr (Dimension)c
Norosac) ethalfluralin (Sonalan)

Prepared by Nathan L. Hartwig, professor

of weed science.

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