Initial effects of quinclorac on the survival and growth of high biomass tree species
Increasingly, short rotation woody crops are being planted for biofuel/biomass production on unused lands or marginal agricultural lands. Many of these plantations occur near agriculture land which is intensively managed including yearly herbicide applications. Herbicide drift from these applications may cause tree stress and decreasing yields impacting potential biomass production. Quinclorac, a rice herbicide, is often cited as a potential source of tree damage and is the focal herbicide of this study. Five planting stocks, including three eastern cottonwood clones, a hybrid poplar clone, and American sycamore, were assessed for herbicide affects and deployed at three sites across south Arkansas. Stocks were exposed to a full rate labeled for rice (3.175 L ha-1), two rates simulating drift (1/100th and 1/10th the full rate), and a no-spray control. Survival of all Populus clones decreased drastically as quinclorac rate increased, while there was little observed effect on American sycamore. Some variability in treatment response among poplars occurred below the full herbicide rate; however, direct spraying a full herbicide rate on poplars resulted in survival rates below 65 percent and negative growth rates due to dieback. Conversely, photosynthetic rates of remaining leaves increased as quinclorac rate increased. Survival and damage scores of American sycamore, regardless of herbicide rate, remained nearly constant.