Downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.) is a highly successful invasive species primarily because it fills an open niche in native plant communities. It also produces large amounts of litter over time. We hypothesized that removing accumulated litter with a prescribed burn before applying herbicides would improve herbicide efficacy, extending the duration of control. In January 2012, two downy brome-infested sites were burned. In March 2012, postemergent applications of glyphosate, imazapic, and tebuthiuron were made in a split-plot design. Above-ground biomass was collected at 6, 18, and 27 months after treatment (MAT) to evaluate treatment effects. In nonburned areas, all herbicide treatments were similar to the control 27 MAT; however, burning combined with imazapic or tebuthiuron reduced downy brome biomass 27 MAT by 81% ± 4.6 SE and 84% ± 19.3 SE, respectively. Remnant species responded positively to burning and herbicide treatments. Native cool-season grass biomass increased after burning whereas native warm-season grass biomass increased following tebuthiuron treatments. The impact of litter on imazapic and tebuthiuron availability was also evaluated. Herbicide interception increased in a linear relationship with increasing litter. For every 50 g · m-2 increase in litter there was a 7% increase in the amount of herbicide intercepted, meaning that 75% of the applied herbicide was intercepted by 360 g · m-2 of litter. A simulated rainfall event of 5 mm, 7 days after application, removed a significant amount of herbicide. This indicates that in sites with surface litter, timely precipitation could be critical for herbicide efficacy; however, when burning was used to remove litter and was followed by herbicides with residual soil activity, downy brome control was extended. Due to downy brome's relatively short seed viability in the soil, extending herbicide efficacy to several years could help to reduce the soil seed bank.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4