University of California

Sulfuric acid as a penetrating agent in arsenical sprays for weed control


A. S. Crafts

Author Affiliations

A. S. Crafts was Assistant Botanist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 8(4):125-147. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v08n04p125. December 1933.

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Sulfuric acid has been successfully used in the control of annual weeds and plant diseases in grain fields.(11) Åslander, in 1927,(1) reviewed briefly the earlier work and reported valuable experimental studies on the action of this chemical upon plants. He listed 53 weeds that have been killed and mentioned a few that did not respond to the acid. Most of the latter were perennials, grasses, and plants difficult to wet. He discussed the influence of soil moisture, relative humidity, and temperature upon the action of the acid and made histological studies on treated mustard leaves. Under the microscope he examined Elodea leaves in acid solutions. In all his work he compared sulfuric acid with iron sulfate. He found the acid much more rapid in its action upon the plant and explained its effectiveness in dry regions upon this basis. When the relative humidity was low, he found iron sulfate to crystallize on the leaves before penetration had taken place.

Sulfuric acid has proved useful in Arizona(3) against a number of weeds. Being produced as a convenient outlet for certain by-products of the smelting industry, it is relatively inexpensive. The chief draw-back to its general use is its strongly corrosive action on metal equipment—a difficulty that must be overcome before it can serve the farmer in combating annual weeds.

More reeentlyv(5) sulfuric acid has been found useful as a penetrating agent in an acid arsenical spray that promises to become useful in controlling certain deep-rooted perennial weeds. The mechanism responsible for the action of this type of spray was described in 1927,(8) and further experiments were reported in 1930.(4)

Literature Cited

[1] Åslander Alfred. Sulfuric acid as a weed spray. Jour. Agr. Research. 1927. 34:1065-1091.

[2] Brenner W. Studien über die Empfindlichkeit und Permeabilität pflanzlicher Protoplasten für Saüren und Basen. Öfvers. Finska Vetensk. Soc. Förhandl. 1918. 60(4):1-124.

[3] Brown J. G., Streets R. B. Sulfuric acid spray: A practical means for the control of weeds. Arizona Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 1928. 128:299-316.

[4] Crafts A. S., Kennedy P. B. The physiology of Convolvulus arvensis (morning-glory or bindweed) in relation to its control by chemical sprays. Plant Physiol. 1930. 3:329-344. DOI: 10.1104/pp.5.3.329 [CrossRef]

[5] Crafts A. S. The use of arsenical compounds in the control of deep-rooted perennial weeds. Hilgardia. 1933. 7:361-372.

[6] Heilbrunn L. V. The colloid chemistry of protoplasm. Protoplasma Monographien I 1928. p.356. p. Berlin

[7] Johnson Ethelbert. Report on weed control activities. California Dept. Agr. Mo. Bul. 1927. 16:500

[8] Kennedy P. B., Crafts A. S. The application of physiological methods to weed control. Plant Physiol. 1927. 2:503-506. DOI: 10.1104/pp.2.4.503 [CrossRef]

[9] Morgan A. Experiments on the control of hoary cress. Victoria Jour. Agr. 1931. 29:504-515.

[10] Olsen John C. Van Nostrand’s chemical annual. 1922. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. 900p.

[11] Rabate E. The use of sulfuric acid against weeds and certain crop parasites. Internatl. Rev. Sci. and Pract. Agr. (n.s.). 1926. 4:535-545.

[12] Rudolph Konrad. Epidermis und epidermale Transpiration. Bot. Archiv. 1925. 9:49-94.

[13] Stiles Walter, Jorgensen Ingvar. Studies in permeability. I. The exosmosis of electrolytes as a criterion of antagonistic ion-action. Ann. Bot. 1915. 29:349-367.

[14] Stiles Walter, Jorgensen Ingvar. Studies in permeability. II. The effect of temperature on the permeability of plant cells to the hydrogen ion. Ann. Bot. 1915. 29:611-618.

Crafts A. 1933. Sulfuric acid as a penetrating agent in arsenical sprays for weed control. Hilgardia 8(4):125-147. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v08n04p125
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