SPONSORED CONTENT – Mesquite is most susceptible to aerial spraying when the plant is in a growth mode — warm soil, adequate moisture and moving carbohydrates around. Leaves have to be able to absorb foliar herbicides. Dow AgroSciences Range & Pasture experts outline five critical factors for successful control of mesquite with aerial application. Some of these factors also apply to hand-sprayed leaf treatments. These recommendations are based on the work of researchers with the Texas A&M University System and Texas Tech University, plus more than 25 years of commercial experience.
- Soil Temperature. Soil temperature 12 to 18 inches deep should be at least 75 F or, preferably, more than 80 F. Do not spray when soil temperatures are cooler than 75 F. Soil temperature is critical, because it influences the flow of carbohydrates and absorbed herbicides in the plant. Make your broadcast applications within 60 days after reaching the minimum soil temperature. Clay soils, wet soils and heavily shaded soils will warm up more slowly than others. Rainfall during the season will cause soil temperatures to drop.
- Carbohydrate Translocation. Herbicides absorbed by the leaves must move down into the roots and the below-ground bud zone in order to root-kill mesquite. Absorbed herbicides flow with the carbohydrates. In mesquite, carbohydrates move downward during two periods. The first optimum period is 42 to 63 days after bud break. In many areas, this period will be during the last week of May through the first two weeks of June. Spray during this period only if the mesquite flowers are yellow in color, the leaves are dark green, and soil temperatures are warmer than 75 F. Low soil temperatures usually will limit spraying during this period. The second optimum timing period is 72 to 84 days after bud break, when mesquite beans are fully elongated and maturing. In many areas, this second timing will be during the first two weeks of July, but this is year-dependent and may shift due to rainfall patterns.
- Mesquite Foliage. Mesquite foliage should be healthy and dark green. Unhealthy or immature foliage won’t absorb enough herbicide. Avoid spraying if more than 25 percent of the foliage has been damaged by insects, hail or disease. Avoid spraying if there are new, light green leaves on the twig tips.
- Soil Moisture. While it may seem like a drought to you, mesquite can be healthy and growing — and ready to spray — even if the soil is dry. Rainfall can actually be bad for mesquite control. Rains after a dry period can cause new leaf growth on twig tips, indicating upward translocation. Don’t spray then. Too much dry weather can also be bad, if it affects mesquite foliage. Don’t spray if the foliage is obviously drought-stressed — very sparse foliage on the mesquite, leaves turning yellow, leaf margins and tips necrotic or leaves dropping. Spraying when grasses are dry or “drought-dormant” is OK if the mesquite foliage is healthy.
- Proper Application. Proper herbicide application is the final step. Recommended herbicides and rates will vary by region, associated species and management goals. In aerial trials, Sendero® herbicide at 28 ounces per acre has proven to be the most effective and consistent herbicide treatment on mesquite. For aerial applications, wind speed should be 2 to 10 mph, or 5 to 10 mph in heavy mesquite cover. Air temperature should be cooler than 95 F. Relative humidity should be more than 20 percent. In aerial applications, use at least 4 gallons total volume of spray mix per acre. Aircraft should spray swaths perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction.
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