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Herbicide injury from carotenoid pigment inhibitors including clomazone, fluridone, isoxaflutole, mesotrione, norflurazon, and others.


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  • White, pale yellow to pale green foliage on new shoot tips and leaves of sensitive plants.
  • Occasional pink to purple margins as pigment loss occurs.
  • Affected tissues and growing points may become necrotic over time.
  • Reduced growth.
  • Over time, new growth may resume normal appearance resulting in green young growth but older white foliage.
new growth is yellowed, tips whte to necrotic

Mezotrione injury to taxus.

J Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Serviceberry foliage bleached by exposure to clomazone vapor dri

Serviceberry foliage bleached by exposure to clomazone vapor drift.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Black gum plants exposed to clomazone vapor drift.

Black gum plants exposed to clomazone vapor drift developed red foliage, with dark green main veins.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Clomazone vapor drift on grape.

Clomazone vapor drift on grape. Pigment loss leads to white foliage, not yellow foliage.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Fluridone spray drift caused clorosis on muscadine grape.

Fluridone spray drift caused clorosis on muscadine grape - but did not cause total pigment loss as observed from clomazone vapor drift.

B. Lassiter  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Look-a-like bleaching in dogfennel caused by infection.

Look-a-like. This bleaching in dogfennel was caused by infection with the bacterium Psudomonas syringae pv. tagetes.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Look to the weeds for clues.

Look to the weeds for clues. This morningglory is showing interveinal chlorosis from fluridone spray drift.

B. Lassiter  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Look to the weeds for clues.

Clomazine vapor drift injury symptoms will usually be visible in susceptible weeds present on field edges such as this pokeweed in the fence-row between the field crop treated with clomazone and the field where vapor drift damaged a susceptible crop.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Diquat spray drift on daylily.

Look-a-like: diquat spray drift on daylily results in bleached patches on foliage. Over time these patches will turn brown and necrotic.

J. Neal  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

new growth is almost white, older leaves still green

mesotrione injury to squash

J. Neal  CC BY-NC 4.0

Plant Entry and Symptom Expression

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Most carotenoid pigment inhibitors are foliar applied and symplastically translocated throughout the plant. Some can be soil applied but must be incorporated to avoid volatilization or photodegradation. Soil applied carotenoid inhibitors (such as norflurazon and clomazone) enter the plant through the mesocotyl or hypocotyl of germinating seedlings and translocate symplastically. Clomazone has a high potential for vapor drift resulting in non-targeted plant bleaching. Carotenoid synthesis inhibition leads to loss of chlorophyll. Less sensitive plants, may resume normal growth within weeks of exposure.

Similar Problems

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Carotenoid pigment inhibitor injury may be confused with symptoms from:

  • Certain bacterial and fungal infections may cause bleaching of the growing points. For example, plants in the aster family can exhibit white growing points caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. targets. This may be separated from carotenoid pigment inhibitor damage by the absence of symptoms on species from other plant families.
  • Severe micronutrient deficiency, such as late stages of severe Fe deficiency may bleach tissues.
  • Contact herbicides such as paraquat will bleach more rapidly than carotenoid pigment inhibitors and typically lead to rapid necrosis.
  • Protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitor such as acifluorfen shows tissue discoloration but bronzing appears rather than bleaching.
  • Air pollution and car exhaust may cause white foliage. This can usually be distinguished by proximity to vehicle exhaust.
  • Insect growth regulators have been shown to cause bleaching in sensitive greenhouse crops.

Herbicide Mode of Action Category

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DOXP Photyene 4-HPPD
WSSA – 11 WSSA – 12 WSSA – 28


Professor of Weed Science and Extension Specialist
Horticultural Science
Professor Emeritus
Cobleskill Univ.
Assistant Professor
Horticultural Science
Extension Associate, Horticulture
Horticultural Science

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Publication date: Sept. 10, 2015

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