Weed control of paraquat can be erratic and may be attributable to differing species sensitivity and/or environmental factors for which minor guidance is available on commercial labels. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to quantify selectivity of paraquat across select weed species and the influence of environmental factors. Experiments were performed under controlled conditions in the greenhouse and growth chamber. Compared with purple deadnettle (dose necessary to reduce shoot biomass by 50% = 39 g ai ha–1), waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, and horseweed were 4.9, 3.3, 1.9, and 1.3 times more sensitive to paraquat, respectively. The injury progression rate over 3 d after treatment (DAT) was a more accurate predictor of final efficacy at 14 DAT than the lag phase until symptoms first appeared. For example, at the 17.5 g ha–1 dose, the injury rate of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth was, on average, 3.6 times greater than that of horseweed and purple deadnettle. The influence of various environmental factors on paraquat efficacy was weed specific. Applications made at sunrise improved control of purple deadnettle over applications at solar noon or sunset. Lower light intensities (200 or 600 µmol m–2 s–1) surrounding the time of application improved control of waterhemp and horseweed more than 1,000 µmol m–2 s–1. Day/night temperatures of 27/16 C improved horseweed and purple deadnettle control compared with day/night temperatures of 18/13 C. Though control was positively associated with injury rates in the application time of day and temperature experiments, a negative relationship was observed for waterhemp in the light-intensity experiment. Thus, although there are conditions that enhance paraquat efficacy, the specific target species must also be considered. These results advocate paraquat dose recommendations, currently based on weed height, be expanded to address sensitivity differences among weeds. Moreover, these findings contrast with paraquat labels stating temperatures of 13 C or lower do not reduce paraquat efficacy.
Nomenclature: Paraquat; giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida L.; horseweed, Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq; Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson; purple deadnettle, Lamium purpureum L.; waterhemp, Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) J.D. Sauer