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Influence of Metsulfuron-Containing Herbicides and Application Timings on Tall Fescue Seedhead Production and Forage Yield

Sather, Bryan C., Roberts, Craig A., Bradley, Kevin W.
Weed technology 2013 v.27 no.1 pp. 34-40
2,4-D, Festuca arundinacea subsp. arundinacea, application timing, crude protein, developmental stages, dicamba, dormancy, field experimentation, forage yield, hay, metsulfuron, nutritive value, pastures, pesticide application, picloram, spring, summer, weeds
Field trials were conducted in 2009 and 2010 to investigate the effects of metsulfuron-containing herbicides on tall fescue growth, seedhead production, yield, and forage nutritive value. Several rates of metsulfuron-containing products and picloram plus 2,4-D were applied to a weed-free tall fescue hay field in the early spring vegetative, late spring boot, and late summer dormancy stages of growth. Compared to the nontreated control, applying metsulfuron-containing herbicides to vegetative tall fescue reduced plant height by 13 to 40% whereas boot-stage applications of these same herbicides reduced height by 28 to 45%. Metsulfuron-containing herbicides reduced seedhead density from 14 to 61% when applied to vegetative tall fescue, and from 53 to 88% when applied at the boot stage. Metsulfuron plus 2,4-D plus dicamba (0.01 + 0.40 + 0.14 kg ai ha⁻¹) was the only metsulfuron-containing treatment applied at the vegetative application timing that did not reduce tall fescue seedheads or yield when compared to the nontreated control. Vegetative-stage applications of metsulfuron-containing herbicides reduced tall fescue yields by 33 to 63%, whereas boot-stage applications reduced yields by 15 to 35%. Picloram plus 2,4-D did not reduce tall fescue height, seedhead density, or yield when applied at either timing. Tall fescue crude protein (CP) concentration was greater in response to the vegetative compared to boot-stage herbicide applications, and vegetative-stage applications of metsulfuron-containing herbicides increased CP concentration of tall fescue by 1.5 to 3.4% compared to the nontreated control. Results from these experiments indicate that spring applications of metsulfuron-containing herbicides can be utilized to reduce tall fescue seedhead production and increase CP content of tall fescue pastures and hay fields, but summer applications of these same herbicide treatments will have only limited effects on yield, nutritive values, or seedhead density of tall fescue harvested in the fall or the spring following treatment.Nomenclature: 2,4-D, dicamba, metsulfuron, picloram; tall fescue, Schedonorus phoenix (Scop.) Holub, FESAR.