In the food plot world there are often varied opinions, and at times it is hard to tell truth from fiction. This is particularly true with herbicides. Everyone just seems to have their own opinion on what herbicide is best for a particular application, making it tough to discern what is good advice. Here I’d like to review a very commonly used herbicide, clethodim, which is useful for both grass control in food plots and for controlling certain invasive species.
How To Use
Clethodim (often sold as Clethodim 2EC or Arrow 2EC) is a grass selective herbicide that targets grasses and will not kill broadleaf plants. As with any herbicide, however, it is more effective on certain species when timed correctly. It is particularly effective on annual grasses such as annual bluegrass, ryegrass, foxtail, crabgrass, and Japanese stiltgrass. When sprayed over a hardy perennial grass like fescue or orchardgrass be sure to apply the herbicide while the grass is small (under 6”), otherwise it may be necessary to spray a second time within 2-3 weeks of the first application to actually kill the plants.
When spraying clethodim, like any other herbicide, you must read the label first to learn of any safety concerns, which plants it controls, and how to appropriately mix it. After reviewing the clethodim label, you will see that a surfactant is required to mix with the herbicide solution. This surfactant acts as a “sticking” agent to bond your herbicide to the leaves of the plants you are spraying, which allows the herbicide to be better absorbed. Do not try to spray clethodim without adding the required surfactant, it will have little to no effect and you will waste time and money!
Clethodim is probably best known as a grass control herbicide for use over clover, and that is for good reason. It does a great job of controlling grasses and not harming your food plot crop, so long as you don’t have any cereal grains(cereal rye, wheat, sorghum, corn, or oats) planted in your food plot mixture. Follow the label for mixing instructions, but for most grasses, a 8-16 ounce per acre rate of clethodim with 1% volume nonionic surfactant added will be sufficient to control those pesky food plot grasses. Make note that some surfactants can burn and even kill your broadleaf plantings. To avoid this, use a nonionic surfactant for your mixture as those are much less likely to adversely affect your plantings.
Clethodim also has great applications for habitat management when you are trying to control non-native grasses. I particularly like clethodim for controlling Japanese stiltgrass in areas where there is a good mixture of forbs that I do not want to harm, as clethodim allows me to kill the grass and release the forbs to take the place of the dying stiltgrass.
For this application, mixing Clethodim at 1% volume and nonionic surfactant at 1% volume in a backpack sprayer allows me to spot treat any area and kill the stiltgrass that would otherwise smother the native forbs that are growing. I do not advise using clethodim to spray bermudagrass, johnsongrass, cogongrass, or other robust perennial grasses, as it is not very effective at controlling them.
I hope that the above points have familiarized you with clethodim and have caused you to consider the wide array of applications for this herbicide! In this short post I have not covered every use for this chemical, but I hope that you will try these techniques and develop your own to improve the management practices on your property. Remember, always use the property Personal Protective Equipment (PPE‘s) and read the label of any herbicide before you use it. Happy spraying!