18 September 1998

Plough away that ergot

WITH no recommended chemical control for ergot, farm business specialist Axient advises deep ploughing of contaminated land.

The disease, encouraged by rain during flowering, hit some varieties, notably Rialto, harder than usual this summer. Burial will reduce survival of its black fruiting bodies, most of which should rot within a year, says the company.

Other anti-ergot tactics include controlling grass weeds, especially blackgrass, which are also susceptible and from which infection can spread, it advises.

Clean grain should be used for both seed and feed. The disease causes little yield loss, but ergots are poisonous to humans and some livestock. A combination of 2.2mm long slot and 5.16mm round hole screen can reduce the number in a sample by 70-80%, notes the firms newsletter. Screenings should be disposed of by deep burial. &#42