Real Results grower Edward Vipond shares his real- life experiences in battling black-grass.


With conditions so far this year a complete turnaround from last year when the wet harvest was followed by a very dry spell, Edward Vipond of Troston Farms Ltd, Park Farm, Bury St Edmunds has high hopes for an effective autumn herbicide campaign on the farms’ black-grass population.

Mr Vipond said. “We finished our wheat harvest on the 3rd of August this year giving us the opportunity to get land worked in good time. We have some moisture now and black-grass is chitting.

We are spraying glyphosate as we speak on stubbles that have black-grass in them; we will cultivate and then spray again, once if not twice, before drilling.

Mr Vipond normally drills winter wheat in late September and early October. He said, “The wheat drilling date has been pushed a bit further back to get a bit more sprayed off before we drill. I have about 450ha of wheat going into the ground this autumn and about half of that has black-grass in it, to a greater or lesser degree.

We can drill 50-60 ha a day, so you are soon over it but whatever happens the seed bed has to be right. That’s the key, because the best residual herbicide in the world will not work as well if you don’t have a fine, firm seedbed.

We build our chemical programme on a base of pre-em herbicides. This autumn I will be using 1 or 2 more residual herbicides to try and increase the efficacy, but you need the right conditions for that. If it is a dry autumn you know the efficacy will be reduced and you may have to think again.

Mr Vipond related how last year the conditions went from a very wet scenario when harvesting and cultivating to dry conditions when the spraying of pre emergence herbicide was being carried out.

He said, “The sterile seedbed was not helped by dry conditions so we were relying on a fairly robust pre-emergent herbicide programme and it went dry on us. We also applied a contact herbicide which didn’t work as well as it could have, again due to climatic conditions and so because of the black-grass population in the crop I ended up spraying about 2.5 ha of the field off. I have never had to do that before.”

Mr Vipond said, “I had to admit defeat which I don’t like doing however, the thing is to be brave enough early enough, before you have spent money on all your inputs. I sprayed the wheat crop off at GS31. The size of the black-grass population would have caused future problems so I had to bite the bullet and chalk it down to a bad year.”

Mr Vipond has already planned the cultivations for the next two years in this field because he does not want to invert the soil.

He said, “I have to think far ahead to get the agronomics right for this field. It is going into a spring bean crop and we are now just about to spray off the stubble before we cultivate, deep till with a tine. I would hope to spray off again whilst the soil is warm enough and there is active growth of the black-grass this autumn.”

The field will also be sprayed with glyphosate in the spring. Mr Vipond added, “There are some herbicides available for use in spring beans, which I will use. The following crop of winter wheat will be established using non-inversion tillage.”

Mr Vipond said, “Clearly at the moment we are only in the early stages of ground preparation but seedbed wise everything I have done so far, for establishing a wheat crop looks good. I get my seedbeds to 75% now and then let them weather and then spray off, cultivate and drill. I have high hopes for a better autumn herbicide campaign than last year.

He added, “Black-grass is becoming ever more of an issue because of the weed seedbank. Over 90% control of blackgrass is needed to stand still. I don’t think I am managing that so I am building my seed bank not depleting it, which is a big issue.”