Black greasewood (greasewood) and gray rabbitbrush are important shrub components of several plant communities throughout western North America. Land managers may view these species differently depending on their goals. Greasewood and gray rabbitbrush shrub communities may be invaded by several invasive plants including Russian knapweed, perennial pepperweed, hoary cress, halogeton, and several annual mustards. Metsulfuron and chlorsulfuron are commonly used for controlling these and other invasive plants, but little is known regarding their impacts on greasewood and gray rabbitbrush. Our objective was to quantify the impact of these herbicides on greasewood and gray rabbitbrush communities from both an efficacy and nontarget impact perspective. Field studies were established in the spring of 2004 and repeated twice in 2005 near Laramie, WY, in a pasture with mixed stands of greasewood and gray rabbitbrush. Treatments included metsulfuron applied at 21, 42, 63, 84, 126, and 168 g ai/ha (0.3, 0.6, 0.9, 1.2, 1.8 and 2.4 oz ai/A), chlorsulfuron applied at 52, 105, and 157 g ai/ha (0.75, 1.5 and 2.25 oz ai/A), and an untreated control. All treatments contained methylated seed oil at 2% v/v. Treatments were applied in mid-June to 3.3 by 9-m (10 by 30 ft) plots with a handheld broadcast sprayer delivering 187 L/ha (20 gal/ac) in a randomized complete block, with three blocks per study. Plots were sampled 12 and 24 mo after treatment (MAT), utilizing visual control estimates and point frame sampling for vegetative cover of greasewood, gray rabbitbrush, perennial grasses, and bare ground. Metsulfuron at 42 g/ha and chlorsulfuron at 105 g/ha provided > 75% visual control of greasewood 24 MAT. For gray rabbitbrush, metsulfuron at 63 g/ha provided approximately 60% control 24 MAT, while chlorsulfuron provided negligible control at any rate. These results suggest differential impacts of these herbicides on greasewood and gray rabbitbrush, and provide land managers with a decision tool for noxious and invasive weed control when managing for or against greasewood and gray rabbitbrush.
Nomenclature: Chlorsulfuron; metsulfuron; halogeton, Halogeton glomeratus (Stephen ex Bieb.) C.A. Mey.; hoary cress, Cardaria draba (L.) Desv.; perennial pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium L.; Russian knapweed, Acroptilon repens (L.) DC.; black greasewood, Sarcobatus vermiculatus (Hook.) Torr. SAYVE; gray rabbitbrush, Ericameria nauseosa (Pallas ex Pursh) Nesom & Baird.