Extracts of Ailanthus altissima stem bark were evaluated for herbicidal effects under field conditions in two outdoor trials. Previous investigations had shown A. altissima bark, extracted with methanol, yielded a strongly phytotoxic extract that contained ailanthone as one of the major herbicidal compounds. The first field trial investigated the level of activity and selectivity of the extract. A. altissima bark extract was sprayed post-emergence onto 17 species of weeds and crops at rates of 366, 177, 93, 47, 23, and 0 kg ha-1. These application rates provided herbicidal activity equivalent to 4.5, 2.2, 1.1, 0.6, 0.3, and 0.0 kg of pure ailanthone per hectare, based on the results of a laboratory bioassay of extract and pure ailanthone. Strong herbicidal effects were observed within several days. Even the lowest rate caused mortality and injury in excess of 50% for nine of the 17 species, and a significant reduction in shoot biomass for 13 species. The second field trial tested the ability of bark extract to control weeds under field conditions with horticultural crops (bush bean, cauliflower, sweet corn, tomato). A. altissima bark extract was sprayed post-emergence at rates of 99, 50, 26, 13, and 0 kg ha-1, providing herbicidal activity equivalent to 1.1, 0.6, 0.3, 0.14, and 0.0 kg of pure ailanthone per hectare. Extract treatment provided partial weed control (greatest reduction in weed biomass was 40%), but also caused serious crop injury. Bush bean was the only crop that showed a significant increase in shoot biomass and fruit yield, compared to the non-weeded control. None of the crops, regardless of application rate, showed a level of shoot biomass or fruit yield comparable to the hand-weeded control. The herbicidal effects of A. altissima bark extract declined within the first few weeks after application, supporting previous evidence that ailanthone is rapidly degraded under field conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science
- Plant Science