13 October 1995

Weed snag for

popular oats

WINTER oat yields of up to 10t/ha (4t/acre) last harvest have sparked growing interest in the crop, but a herbicide shortage could spell trouble for newcomers.

Lancs-based AF, which claims to process about a fifth of the UKs winter oat seed, reports plenty of enquiries for its buy-back contracts.

Even with only an average yield of 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) profitability compares well with winter wheat and "is easily as good as winter barley" says seed manager Andy Smith. The "psychological barrier" of having oats on the farm is crumbling for many growers, he believes.

But Bayers decision to drop the herbicides Tribunil (methbenzthiazuron) and Glytex (isoxaben + methabenzthiazuron) could leave "a lot of weedy oats about", according to AF crop protection manager Geoff Summers.

Only alternative

Supplies of Prebane (terbutryn), the only practical alternative for grass weed control in the crop, are "extremely tight". Other products containing the active ingredient have no label approval for oats, he warns.

"Fortunately oats are more competitive than wheat and barley." But growers should avoid growing them on fields with lots of blackgrass and meadow grass, he advises.