Black-grass management, like dieting, needs discipline and commitment, says leading weed management expert Dr Stephen Moss.
Speaking at an AHDB Monitor Farm meeting in Malmesbury, the black-grass guru gave five control strategies for farmers to focus on over the next five years.
Stop the weed seeding – patch spray off and hand rogue before mid-June
Use cultivations strategically, taking into account the infestation levels on each field
Delay autumn sowing or move to spring cropping
Increase competition by increasing seed rates
Use herbicides, and experiment to find the best pre-emergence herbicide for your own farm.
Dr Moss predicted that, as organic matter increases on farms, the efficacy of pre-emergence herbicides may decline
He said: “More work is needed on the impact of different cultivations in stubble and whether herbicides work better with shallow or deeper cultivation strategies.”
Philip Dolbear, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “The best strategy is a flexible and broad one taking into account the conditions of each season, field, soil type, crop residue and crop.”
There was also a warning for farmers at the meeting to watch out for ryegrass.
“The spread of ryegrass is about ten years behind black-grass,” said Dr Moss, “but with the same resistance mechanisms. It’s twice as competitive as black-grass and produces ten times more seeds per plant.”
Find out more about AHDB’s work on weed management and the ‘five for five’ initiative at https://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/crop-management/weed-management.aspx