Field studies were conducted to determine the effects of synthetic auxin herbicides at simulated exposure rates applied to ‘Covington’ sweetpotato propagation beds on the quality of nonrooted stem cuttings (slips). Treatments included diglycolamine salt of dicamba, 2,4-D choline plus nonionic surfactant (NIS), and 2,4-D choline plus glyphosate at 1/10, 1/33, or 1/66 of a 1X application rate (560 g ae ha–1 dicamba, 1,065 g ae ha–1 2,4-D choline, 1,130 g ae ha–1 glyphosate) applied at 2 or 4 wk after first slip harvest (WASH). Injury to sweetpotato 2 wk after treatment was greatest when herbicides were applied 2 WASH (21%) compared to 4 WASH (16%). More slip injury was caused by 2,4-D choline than by dicamba, and the addition of glyphosate did not increase injury over 2,4-D choline alone. Two weeks after the second application, sweetpotato slips were cut 2 cm above the soil surface and transplanted into production fields. In 2019, sweetpotato ground coverage 8 wk after transplanting was reduced 37% and 26% by the 1/ 10X rates of dicamba and 2,4-D choline plus NIS, respectively. Though dicamba caused less injury to propagation beds than 2,4-D choline with or without glyphosate, after transplanting, slips treated with 1/10X dicamba did not recover as quickly as those treated with 2,4-D choline. In 2020, sweetpotato ground coverage was 90% or greater for all treatments. Dicamba applied 2 WASH decreased marketable sweetpotato storage root yield by 59% compared to the nontreated check, whereas treatments including 2,4-D choline reduced marketable yield 22% to 29%. All herbicides applied at 4 WASH reduced marketable yield 31% to 36%. The addition of glyphosate to 2,4-D choline did not increase sweetpotato yield. Results indicate that caution should be taken when deciding whether to transplant sweetpotato slips that are suspected to have been exposed to dicamba or 2,4-D choline.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D; dicamba; glyphosate; sweetpotato; Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. ‘Covington’