29 August 1997

Warmth ideal for weeds and fungi

WHILE warm wet weather has created ideal growing conditions for grass, it has also encouraged weed and fungus growth and allowed pests to thrive in swards.

ADAS dairy business consultant Richard Eaton warns that fungal diseases, such as crown rust, have built up in dense swards which have grown too long. To reduce build up, Mr Eaton advises cutting or grazing grass harder so swards are left short over the winter. Robin Turner of the Grass Research and Advisory Service warns that the dry spring weather limited early grass growth and allowed weeds to become established in new leys.

"Competition for grass is high and weeds must be dealt with effectively or swards will suffer reduced growth," says Dr Turner.

"But conditions for sowing autumn reseeds are good, especially as forage is plentiful. Seed-beds must be turned adequately and worked to a fine tilth with glyphosate applied to take out as many weeds as possible," says Dr Turner.

He also recommends using a grass drill which has narrower row spacing than a cereal drill and, therefore, cuts down the space for weeds to establish.

Dr Turner warns that frit fly damage could also be high this year and advises checking reseeds every week for the first six weeks to assess damage. &#42