Three pronged approach to grass weed control


Andrew Williamson Nsch, Beddoes & Williamson

Our approach to grass weed control, not just blackgrass, for next season starts now. It is this time of year that any escapees of the in crop herbicide programme rear their ugly heads above the glorious crop canopy.

We use a three-pronged approach to prevent any seed return to the following crop:

1 – Hand rouge where the population allows.

I consider the odd plant here and there, or small clusters of less than 20 plants to be hand rogueable. Last year the majority of the fields were rouged by in-house labour including myself.

On one field we employed a gang of 10 people from an agency plus me, to rouge a 20ha field that had a sparse population scattered across the area but it would have taken me too long to do by myself. We spent 10hrs on that field at a cost of £1000, £50/ha which I consider money well spent.

2 – Spray off where the population is too dense or over too large an area to hand rouge.

We have sprayed off approx 1% of the wheat area, for sterile brome grass and blackgrass in recent years. We spray it out with a Knapsack or larger areas with the sprayer.

3 – Plant a spring crop which is best suited to control the most prevalent grass weed species identified.

This year we have planted spring barley after the worst blackgrass fields and spring beans where sterile brome is the dominant weed.

We find barley to be more competitive against blackgrass. I don’t think there are any good options for post-emergence control of blackgrass, whereas we can still control brome grass in spring beans chemically.