Defoliation of Woody Cut Stems with Preharvest, Less Toxic Chemical and Postharvest Environmental Methods

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  • 1 Mississippi State University, Box 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762
  • 2 North Carolina State University, Box 7609, Raleigh, NC 27695.

Six defoliants were applied in fall and tested for their efficacy in preharvest defoliation of fieldgrown curly willow (Salix matsudana `Tortuosa'), american bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), and american beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). Defoliants included acetic acid, chelated copper, crop oil concentrate surfactant (COC), ethephon, dimethipin plus COC, pelargonic acid, and a tap water control. For chelated copper, a concentration of 800 mg·L–1 (ppm) was most effective at promoting defoliation, providing 100% defoliation of american bittersweet and 76% defoliation of american beautyberry. For curly willow and american beautyberry, all concentrations of dimethipin produced good or excellent defoliation. Increasing concentrations of ethephon from 200 to 2500 mg·L–1 increased defoliation from 0% to 67%. Pelargonic acid was not effective at promoting defoliation of woody plants at the concentrations used. In an experiment conducted during spring using containerized curly willow, irrigation was stopped for 0, 3, or 6 days before defoliants were applied, but none of the irrigation treatments promoted defoliation. In a postharvest study using cut curly willow, stems were held in distilled water at 5, 20, or 35 °C (41.0, 68.0, or 95.0 °F) for 1, 3, 5, or 7 days. Holding cut stems of curly willow at 20 °C promoted 68% defoliation, compared to 53% or 28% for 5 or 35 °C, respectively.

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