Growers are being urged to beef up their pre-drilling weed control this spring, as the warm winter has led to a bigger weed threat to spring cropping yields.
The mildest winter on record coupled with limited spraying opportunities has resulted in an exceptional range and scale of late-winter weed growth to be controlled ahead of spring drilling.
“We’ve seen blackgrass, in particular, continue to germinate and grow strongly throughout the winter,” reported Procam head of crop production, Nick Myers.
“And spring germinators such as chickweed and cleavers have been coming through and thriving in stubbles and cultivated ground alongside the inevitable charlock from well before Christmas.”
Mr Myers highlighted that patience and flexibility is the key this season, with the patience to delay fieldwork until ground conditions are right and the flexibility to be able to make the most of every weather opportunity.
“To rush in and drill into sub-standard seed-beds without sufficiently good preplanting weed control would be a recipe for disaster”
Nick Myers, Procam
“To rush in and drill into sub-standard seed-beds without sufficiently good preplanting weed control would be a recipe for disaster,” he stressed.
“That’s because the secret of success with spring crops is to get them up and away as rapidly as possible and with minimal early weed competition.
“This means farmers need to get their pre-planting control right first time, therefore using the right rate and application.”
Mr Myers explained that tillered annual grassweeds and easy-to-control broad-leaved weeds need 720g/ha of Roundup for effective control and tougher annuals and perennials up to 1,440g/ha.
He advised applying in water volumes of 80-250 litres/ha through nozzles giving a medium-coarse spray, lower water volumes typically giving better results and nozzles inclined slightly towards the rear improving coverage.
“The best spray coverage will be particularly important in cloddy conditions,” he pointed out.
“Getting closer to the ground will help here, as will keeping sprayer speeds down. Lower drift risk formulations will be valuable too in ensuring the best possible targeting.