The growth and anatomy symptoms induced in plant species sensitive to auxinic herbicides are similar to those induced by high exogenous doses of the natural hormone, IAA. After exposure to a high dose, symptoms include cupping and stunting of leaves, brittleness, stunting and twisting of stems, and general abnormal growth of susceptible species (Figure 3). Terminal leaf growth ceases. Tissue proliferation along the stem takes place first at the stem tip, then the nodes and finally along the length of the stem resulting in disintegration or blockage of phloem and xylemtissue. Meanwhile, epinasty and bending and splitting of the stem occur. (See video clip of 2,4-D effects on tomato)
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The roots become thickened and stunted. Adventitious roots or callus tissues develop which crush the phloem and cortex, eventually resulting in rupturing of the epidermis of stem tissues. Symptoms normally appear within a few hours or days although death may not occur for several weeks or months. Watch the video below that demonstrates how auxins may cause some of these symptoms.
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Grass crops are tolerant to auxinic herbicides but may be injured if these herbicides are applied during rapid cell division (tillering, flowering) or during rapid growth (high temperatures and high soil moisture) (Figure 3). Corn and sorghum stems may become brittle after auxinic herbicideapplication. Wheat and rice may exhibit buggy-whipped, malformed seed heads after 2,4-D application.
Broadleaf crops such as cotton and grapes are especially sensitive to drift from 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, and triclopyr when used in nearby fields. Cotton leaves will be narrow and crinkled (okra-leafed) and bolls may have a beaked appearance. Cotton will grow out of the injury if the concentration in drift is low. If the drift concentration is high, cotton maturity will be delayed and yield will be reduced. Soybeans, peanuts, and alfalfa are tolerant to 2,4-DB because they do not convert it to 2,4-D as susceptible plants do. However, soybeans may display crinkled, wavy leaves (strapped) after 2,4-DB applications, but will grow out of this condition.