At last we are beginning to see fields looking as though they are growing and will produce a crop at harvest.
It’s been a long cold winter and spring and it has taken until early summer to see any significant growth, although there is still evidence of patches of waterlogging, slug and pigeon damage in many crops. Also there are fields of totally failed crops that have had to be re-drilled.
With this surge of growth we also have the weed infestation and the curse of the cereal farmer is blackgrass. Over the last few years the control of this grass weed has become more difficult due to chemical resistance that comes about because of the usage of similar active ingredients in our armoury of chemicals. Also, last autumn’s weather very often prevented the programme of spraying being carried out as we would have wished.
With spring sown crops, we normally find that particularly grass weeds start to grow during the autumn and winter and can then be removed before we sow the crop. This year, little growth occurred during this period and so both weeds and the crop have now grown together causing a big impact of weeds competing with the crops in many fields that is now impossible to control.
The knock-on effect of this is that weed seed return to soil will be much greater than usual and, unless we see very favourable soil and weather conditions for next year’s crop, the weed pressure will be even worse.