Submitted to: Invasive Plant Science and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2012
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58345
Citation: Rinella, M.J., Masters, R.A., Bellows, S.E. 2013. Effects of growth regulator herbicide on downy brome (Bromus tectorum) seed production. Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management. 6:60-64.
Interpretive Summary: Growth regulator herbicides, such as aminopyralid, picloram and dicamba, are widely used to control broadleaf weeds in grasslands. In recent studies, we discovered these herbicides interfered with reproductive processes in the invasive annual grass Japanese brome, thereby reducing its seed production nearly 100% in the greenhouse and field. This suggests growth regulators might be used to control invasive annual grasses by depleting their short-lived seed banks. Compared to currently used invasive annual grass herbicides, such as glyphosate and imazapic, growth regulators have the advantage of being less damaging to desirable perennial grasses, though all herbicides currently used for invasive annual grass control can severely damage desirable forbs and shrubs. The objective of the current study was to extend our Japanese brome research to cheatgrass, a much more widespread and damaging relative of Japanese brome. In a greenhouse, we found that picloram was not effective against cheatgrass while aminopyralid greatly reduced cheatgrass seed production. This encouraging result should promote field studies designed to more fully evaluate the potential for using aminopyralid to control cheatgrass. Our findings will perhaps prove most applicable to areas co-dominated by invasive annual grasses and invasive forbs, such as yellow starthistle and spotted knapweed. Cheatgrass often dominates sites after herbicides are used to control invasive forbs. It may sometimes be possible to overcome this problem by using one appropriately timed growth regulator herbicide application to simultaneously target both invasive forbs and invasive annual grasses.
Technical Abstract: Previous research showed growth regulator herbicides, such as picloram and aminopyralid, have a sterilizing effect on Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus Thunb.) that can reduce this invasive annual grass’s seed production nearly 100%. This suggests growth regulators might be used to control invasive annual grasses by depleting their short-lived seed banks. The goal of this study was to extend the previous Japanese brome research to cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), the most damaging invasive annual grass of U.S. grasslands. In a greenhouse, we found picloram did not greatly influence cheatgrass seed production, while point estimates suggest aminopyralid reduced seed production 55-80%. If not for a highly abnormal re-tillering response that we somewhat doubt would occur in the field, point estimates suggest aminopyralid would have reduced cheatgrass seed production ~90% when applied at the heading stage and ~98% when applied at three earlier growth stages. Our greenhouse study should encourage field studies designed to further explore the potential for using growth regulators to control cheatgrass and other invasive annual grasses.