Efficacy of herbicide seed treatments for controlling striga infestation of sorghum

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Witchweed (Striga spp.) infestations are the greatest obstacle to sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] grain production in many areas in Africa. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of herbicide seed treatments for controlling Striga infestation of sorghum. Seeds of an acetolactate synthase (ALS) herbicide–tolerant sorghum hybrid were treated with two ALS-inhibiting herbicides. Treatments included three rates of imazapyr (IMI), three rates of metsulfuron-methyl (MET), and an untreated control group. In greenhouse trials, observations at 32, 46, and 60 d after planting showed that seeds treated with the highest herbicide rates had the fewest Striga attachments and the greatest delay in attachment. All plants in the untreated group died at or before sorghum flowering; however, herbicide seed treatments, particularly metsulfuron, reduced Striga emergence and significantly increased sorghum grain yield and dry matter production. Field studies comparing seed treatments produced similar results with delayed Striga emergence and fewer emerged Striga plants in herbicide-treated plots. These studies indicate that herbicide seed treatments may provide a highly effective tool for managing Striga in sorghum.

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