Tongue End grower on blackgrass control

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A provisional walk across the fields shows that most of my autumn crops have established well and are resuming growth, writes Julian Davis.

The only exception is oilseed rape. It didn’t establish well and fields near trees and overhead power lines now look like over-winter stubbles as the ‘flying rats’ (pigeons) continue to graze.

The level of blackgrass control achieved in the autumn cereals has been good, but experience would suggest it is unwise to think we have won the war, maybe a battle though. What we have seen in the past is significant levels of blackgrass germinating in the spring, which has less financial impact on the current crop, but can still return significant seed for next year’s crop.

There is a larger area of spring cereals this year. The decision had to be made in the autumn whether some fields could sustain a viable winter wheat crop; this was dependent on blackgrass levels. Although this does not lead theoretically to the most profitable crops, the pre-drilling clean-up with glyphosate (while we still have it!) is the cheapest and most complete kill you can get.

The choice of chemicals for control of blackgrass in spring crops is not great. Spring crops are established in drying soils, often making it more difficult to get useful control from residual products which need moisture.

We have seen the benefit of the weak Pound increasing wheat prices, but it will now be payback time as undoubtedly this year’s inputs will escalate in cost.