Growers warned of black-grass explosion

Article taken from the Agronomist and Arable Farmer, written by Sarah Peacocke

Farmers who have drilled their wheat early have taken a huge risk, and might soon be facing a black-grass explosion that will hammer their yields, writes Sarah Peacocke.

Speaking at the East Kent Plough Match on 24th September, Rob Purvis, SE regional agronomist with Agrovista, said he had seen a huge split between growers planting early and those waiting until mid to late October.

“This year I’d estimate that 70% have already drilled, and 30% are still waiting to drill.  It’s a complete reversal of last year,” He said.

He believes some farmers, who got caught out last autumn when it started raining on 26th September and hardly stopped before the end of the year, have rushed out to plant early for fear of getting caught out for a second time and being forced into planting spring cereals.

“Black-grass is traditionally a heavy land growers who worry about taking the risk and drilling late,” Mr Purvis said.

Pre-emergence sprays, he said, were becoming a vital part of black-grass control and he urged growers to always spray within 24 hours of drilling.  “As soon as black-grass starts to germinate your levels of control start to drop off,” he warned.  “Many farmers want to finish planting before they start spraying, so there could be a week’s delay before the pre-em goes on.  This, in turn, can lead to a major yield loss.”

For an effective pre-emergence spray, he recommended a mix of two litres of Trooper with 0.3 litres of Firebird and 20 grammes of Lexus SX.  At a cost of about £45 per hectare, he believes it’s a much more cost-efficient way to tackle the potential problem.

Mr Purvis recalled that he had one client in this past year who struggled to control black-grass through-out the season and faced a 3t/ha drop in yield at cost of around £450/ha.

“It’s the black-grass that emerges with the wheat that’s the most competitive,” he said.  “The later you drill, the less germinates.

“I think some growers do get a bit complacent, but I would urge them not to take any chances.  Even delaying a post-emergence treatment from autumn to spring can cost £180/ha in terms of lost yield,” he concluded.


11 October 2013

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