Canada thistle and dandelion are troublesome weeds found throughout the northern United States. Carbohydrate concentrations in roots of these plants change in response to freezing temperatures as plants prepare to overwinter. Herbicides applied in the fall provide more effective control of these weeds than does treatment applied in early spring. Experiments were conducted near Scottsbluff, NE, from 1999 to 2001 to examine changes in glucose, fructose, sucrose, and fructans in roots of Canada thistle and dandelion in response to the fall-applied herbicide. Dicamba applied 10 d after the first fall frost reduced the quantities of low degree-of-polymerization (DP) fructans and provided better control of Canada thistle and dandelion than did dicamba applied 11 d before the first frost. Dicamba and dicamba plus SAN 836H fall-applied were more effective in controlling Canada thistle and dandelion than was 2,4-D fall-applied. As the rate of dicamba and dicamba plus SAN 836H increased, the quantities of low-DP fructans in plant roots declined, and plant control increased. Activity of fructan 1-exohydrolase in roots of Canada thistle was increased by dicamba fall-applied and was closely associated with decline in the quantities of low-DP fructans.
Nomenclature: Dicamba; SAN 836H, 2-(1-[([3,5-difluorophenylamino]carbonyl)hydrazono]ethyl)-3-pyridinecarboxylic acid, 2,4-D; Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. CIRAR; dandelion, Taraxacum officinale Weber in Wiggers TAROF.