With the increasing focus on herbicide-resistant weeds and the lack of introduction of new modes of action, many producers have turned to planting annual cover crops as a method for reducing weed populations. Recent studies have suggested that perennial cover crops such as white clover could be used as living mulch. However, white clover is slow to establish and is susceptible to competition from winter weeds. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine clover tolerance and weed control in established stands of white clover to several herbicides. Studies were conducted in the fall and winter of 2018 to 2019, and 2019 to 2020, at the J. Phil Campbell Research and Education Center in Watkinsville, GA, and the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, GA. POST applications of imazethapyr, bentazon, or flumetsulam at low and high rates, or in combination with 2,4-D and 2,4-DB, were applied when clover reached the 2- to 3-trifoliate stage. Six weeks after the initial POST application, a sequential application of bentazon and flumetsulam individually, and combinations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, and flumetsulam, were applied over designated plots. Clover biomass was similar across all treatments except where it was reduced by sequential applications of 2,4-D + 2,4-DB + flumetsulam in the 2019 to 2020 season, indicating that most treatments were safe for use on establishing living mulch clover. A single application of flumetsulam at the low rate or a single application of 2,4-D + 2,4-DB provided the greatest control of all weed species while minimizing clover injury compared with the nontreated check. These herbicide options allow for control of problematic winter weeds during clover establishment, thereby maximizing clover biomass and limiting canopy gaps that would allow summer weed emergence.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D; 2,4-DB; bentazon; flumetsulam; imazethapyr; common vetch; Vicia sativa L.; VISA; cutleaf evening primrose; Oenothera laciniata Hill; OELA; white clover; Trifolium repens L.; TRFRE; wild radish; Raphanus raphanistrum; RAPRA