Pre-emergence spray applied to potato crops© Tim Scrivener

A new potato herbicide active is impressing agronomists in trials across the country, giving good control of a broad range of weeds.

The herbicide, which Bayer hopes to introduce for the start of the 2019 season, offers growers another weed-killing option, which is valuable given the recent withdrawal of linuron.

Currently carrying the development code SP01664, it contains the active aclonifen and is applied at the pre-emergence stage. The company adds that it offers good crop safety with no variety or soil restrictions.

See also: Tips for controlling weeds without linuron in potatoes

Bayer’s campaign manager for roots, Edward Hagues, highlights that it has a broad spectrum of activity against broad-leaved weeds.

“It gives good control of small nettle, brassica weeds, chenopodium weeds such as fat hen and orache and a range of polygonum species, with a useful contribution to the control of mayweed and grassweeds [from seed].”

Last year, the herbicide was in trials in Scotland and the east of England to assess its performance against a range of weeds and to gather the data needed to support its registration application.

In the East, SP01644 was managed in a trial by John Keer of Richard Austin Agriculture, who applied it to a crop of Melody at a light land site in north Lincolnshire. He reported respectable performance when applied on its own, but impressive control when applied with Artist.

According to Scottish Agronomy’s Eric Anderson, who had trials at Fife, SP01664 performed admirably and served to extend the spectrum of Artist (flufenacet + metribuzin).

“Across a range of potato varieties there were no performance or crop safety issues and it looks to be a good mixing partner for Artist. When applied in a mix with Artist it gave good control of annual meadowgrass, small nettle, oilseed rape, fat hen and black bindweed,” says Mr Anderson.

“Against a limited spectrum of weeds, primarily comprising field pansy, knotgrass and groundsel, SP01644 and Artist gave control as good as any other product in the trial.”

What impressed Mr Anderson the most, however, was its crop safety on what was a light soil.

“There was no evidence of damage to the growing crop and no negative effects on crop vigour or development,” he says.

This year, Bayer has the product in herbicide demonstration trials around the country.