25 October 2001
Meadow grass ‘carpet’ threatens yield

By Tom Allen-Stevens

CEREAL growers have been warned to be on guard for an explosion of annual meadow grass, particularly in the north and west.

“We were anticipating this sort of problem,” Claire Bend, from Cheltenham-based Masstock, told FWi on Thursday (25 October).

“Many growers found they were unable to get a herbicide spray on last autumn because of the difficult weather conditions and have suffered a high seed return.

“The hot, dry grain-ripening period this summer meant a short dormancy period for many grass weed seeds and has led to the flush we are now experiencing.”

Masstock trials near Marlborough last year showed that meadow grass could take 2-3t/ha off the yield of a winter wheat crop, says Ms Bend.

“This was the difference our best treatments made, which only achieved 60-70% control since the timings went awry.

“It shows the difference a good herbicide makes is more than just cosmetic.”

BASFs Rob Gladwin cites reports of an annual meadow grass carpet springing up in many untreated fields across the north and west of the UK during last week.

“Annual meadow grass can be very competitive at this level and needs to be controlled immediately,” he says.

He warns that the current mild, moist weather means weeds are moving very rapidly through their growth stages.

Ms Bend stresses the need to get on early: “Once the grass tillers it is very difficult to control.”

She suggests using a pendamethalin/isoproturon mix at or before the one to two leaf stage of the weed.

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