It affects almost half of the national winter cropping area, it drives cropping decisions and potential solutions for tackling it fill many Farmers Weekly web pages – it is of course that most troublesome of weeds, blackgrass.
The battle can often feel like taking two steps forward, and one step back, with successful control requiring a combination of tactics working together in order to get the near-perfect control required to deplete the reserve of weed seeds in the soil.
This season, of course, is no different, with growers busy tackling flushes of the highly competitive grassweed in stubbles, stale seed-beds and newly emerged crops up and down the land.
See also: How to plough to bury your blackgrass
Farmers Weekly rounded up the best of what has been happening on Twitter to bring you a flavour of how some growers have been getting on.
Bedfordshire agronomist William Nankivell and Lincolnshire farmer Malc Parr have seen first-hand the power of moving as little as soil as possible, with weeds emerging predominantly where strip cultivations have taken place, but not where ground has been left undisturbed.
— William Nankivell (@WNankivell1) September 20, 2017
There is more than one way to skin a cat of course, and Leicestershire farmer Steve Heard is putting an older machine to good use by tickling the top enough to cause a flush without disturbing seed lower in the profile.
— Steve Heard (@heardfarmingltd) August 31, 2017
Lest we forget though, there is still plenty of ploughing going on, with a strategic weed seed bury often the right way to go to reset the season:
— Martin Harwood (@MartinHarwood11) September 21, 2017
While crop consultancy group Adas predicted this season was set to be a high-dormancy year, with early-ripening blackgrass seed likely to take longer to emerge, results on the ground have in certain areas have suggested otherwise.
— Alex Miles (@alexmiles10) September 17, 2017
Great flush of blackgrass in these stubble turnips ……… now to decide what to do with it! pic.twitter.com/PQquvXI5LK
— Ed Brown (@EdBrownHLH) August 30, 2017
Competitive cropping called for
Many farmers have had good results from replacing wheat with extra barley in their rotation as it is more competitive and can shade out weeds from ever reaching the seed-shedding stage.
However, Gloucestershire agronomist Kathryn Styan shows it is not a magic bullet.
— Kathryn Styan (@Kathrynstyan) September 15, 2017
Things are looking better however in this field of Simon Dain’s on the Suffolk/Essex border, who is mightily pleased with this crop of Picto oilseed rape which will certainly be shading out any blackgrass trying to emerge.
Our Picto was drilled 7/08 and looking well.
Competing well against flea beetle and blackgrass pic.twitter.com/WKwTyUNJJL
— simon harvey dain (@captaincanary) September 14, 2017
And finally… we hope relations weren’t too badly damaged between Hutchinson’s agronomist Keiran Walsh’s client and one of their neighbours after this happened… could take a while to hand rogue.
Just remember when your neighbour asks to drive through your field and they have combined a bad blackgrass field they clean it off 1st ♂️ pic.twitter.com/tUu6btpAha
— Kieran C Walsh (@gaff1wiz) August 17, 2017