Effects of low concentrations of herbicides on full-season, field-grown potatoes
Current phytotoxicity plant test protocols for US pesticide registration require testing for effects on seedling emergence and early growth without regard to other important factors, such as plant reproduction. Yield and quality reduction can have significant economic and ecological effects. Therefore, field trials were conducted to determine if potato (Solanum tubersum L.) vegetative growth and tuber yield and quality were affected by herbicides at below recommended field rates. Potatoes were grown in fields at the Oregon State University Horticulture Farm with herbicides applied at below recommended field application rates 14 d after emergence (DAE) or at 28 DAE. Plant height was measured before and 14 d after application. Visual foliar injury was rated 14 d after application, and tuber yield and quality parameters were measured at harvest (120 DAE). Some tubers were grown in the greenhouse the following year to determine if there were carry-over effects. Potato vegetation and tuber yield quality were generally more affected by herbicides applied at 14 DAE than at 28 DAE. Tuber yield and quality parameters were more affected by lower herbicide rates than were plant height or injury. There were significant yield losses caused by low rates of sulfometuron methyl and imazapyr and, to a lesser extent, with glyphosate and cloransulam-methyl. Bromoxynil and MCPA ((4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy)acetic) acid had little effect on the plants. Vegetative responses did not accurately predict yield and quality responses of tubers; therefore, reproductive responses should be considered in phytotoxicity test protocols for pesticide registration in the USA.