Clethodim is quickly replacing glyphosate as the “go-to” herbicide for grass control in West Tennessee. It began a few years ago as folks found that ryegrass and poa in many fields could no longer be controlled with glyphosate. In more recent years the pace has accelerated as the spread of glyphosate-resistant (GR) summer grasses like goosegrass, jungle rice and Johnsongrass have made it necessary to add clethodim to glyphosate to “prop up” the grass control.
As with glyphosate there are many different brands of clethodim available. I counted over 30 in a brief search. Unlike glyphosate, the pounds of active herbicide in a typical clethodim product jug can vary by as much as 66%. Another difference is that some of these clethodim formulations come “fully loaded” with surfactant while others have no surfactant included at all. This difference between clethodim herbicides can and does cause confusion. It can also make it difficult for the average applicator to price shop as often the price quoted is not comparing the same percent active ingredient or surfactant package.
Valent’s Select 2EC was the first clethodim on the market and most clethodim herbicide products today follow its lead and contain 2 lbs active clethodim/gallon. The standard rate of Select 2EC used for most annual grasses back in the day was 6 ozs/A or 0.09 lbs active/acre. The Select 2EC had no surfactant added in the jug and as such required 1 gallon of COC/100 gallons or (1% v/v) of water be added. In more recent years Valent has moved to marketing Select Max which is a 1 lb/gal active clethodim product with a robust surfactant included in the jug.
Many other clethodim herbicide products sold today range from 1 lb active clethodim/gal to 3 lb active/gal. The most common clethodim products used in Tennessee would the 2 and 3lb active/gal products. These typically do not have a surfactant included in the jug.
All that being stated, it is easy to see why when you ask your consultant what rate of clethodim to use to control large GR ryegrass or GR poa for burndown the answer can be complex. Of the two weeds, ryegrass is the most difficult to control. The rate to control ryegrass would at least need to be 0.125 lbs/A. That would be equivalent to 8 ozs/A of a 2 lb/gal formulation and 5.3 ozs/A of a 3 lb/gal formulation. Most would round that 5.3 ozs up to 6 ozs. One would also need to check the label of the clethodim product on what and how much surfactant to add. If the ryegrass is more than 12” tall and/or dicamba is in the mix then consider using higher clethodim rates to obtain more consistent control. The maximum rate of clethodim that can be used is 0.25 lbs/A.
In the last year there have been numerous reports of some glyphosate-resistant grass species, most notably jungle rice, that have escaped clethodim. We are investigating these reports so please contact extension if you have witnessed these type escapes.