2 November 2001

Meadow grass set to smother cereals

CEREAL growers are being warned they could be facing a "carpet" of annual meadow grass this autumn, after poor control last year. BASF says growers in the north and west in particular are noticing higher populations.

"We were anticipating this," says Claire Bend, from Cheltenham-based Masstock. "A lot of meadow grass went unsprayed last autumn and its very difficult to control in the spring. So I suspect weve had quite a big seed return which will lead to problems.

"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."

Yield could really be at risk, she says. In Masstocks Wilts trials last year, difficult weather meant even the best treatment achieved only 60-70% control. But this still saved 2-3t/ha of wheat yield.

"If we had achieved our target of 90% control, I would have anticipated a 4t/ha yield benefit," says Ms Bend.

BASFs Rob Gladwin warns that recent mild, moist weather has moved the weed rapidly through its growth stages, and some growers now faced a "carpet". "Annual meadow grass can be very competitive at this level and needs to be controlled immediately."

Ms Bend also stresses the need to treat early. "Once the grass tillers it is very difficult to control." She suggests a pendimethalin/isoproturon mix at or before the one to two-leaf stage of the weed.

"PicoPro (picolinafen + pendimethalin) is better if you have large broad-leaved weeds or pansies, but you do need to add IPU to boost the annual meadow grass control." &#42