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Hexazinone use for grass and woody weed control: Effects on establishment and long-term growth of Pinus radiata plantations

Hexazinone use for grass and woody weed control: Effects on establishment and long-term growth of Pinus radiata plantations

New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science 22(1): 12-23

The herbicide hexazinone was applied in three trials to evaluate the effects of controlling grass, dolly bush (Cassinia aculeata R. Br), and woody weeds in Pinus radiata D.Don plantations. Control of grass on an ex-pasture site strip-sprayed with hexazinone at 2 kg a.i/ha significantly improved the survival and early height growth of P. radiata. Grass control was essential to the commercial viability of plantations on this site. Low tree survival on unsprayed plots resulted in poor stem form and heavy branching, as well as significantly reduced volume at age 16 years. On A dolly bush site, strip-spraying with hexazinone at 4 kg a.i./ha resulted in reduced weed growth and significantly higher tree volume growth at age 14 years compared with unsprayed or 2 kg treatments. On a series of sites with various woody and herbaceous weeds including eucalypts and acacias, strip-spraying with hexazinone at 3 kg a.i./ha prior to planting gave good control of weeds and provided significantly increased early tree height growth. In this trial, control of woody weeds resulted in a significant increase (about 30%) in volume of P. radiata at age 14 years. This increased volume growth meant that commercial thinning to release final-crop stems could be carried out at least 2 years earlier than on untreated stands. Economic projections of the growth gains to the end of rotation indicate that the initial cost of herbicide treatment was economically justified on these sites.

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