Blackgrass is biggest headache for Milling Wheat Challenge finalists

All three finalists in the nabim/Crops Milling Wheat Challenge reckon blackgrass poses the biggest technical challenge to milling wheat production on their farms.

David White, who farms 400ha at at Hawk Mill Farm, Cambridgeshire. uses a holding spray of Tolurex (chlorotoluron) before treating with Atlantis or Hatra (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) in spring. But pre-emergence sprays are now on the cards and perhaps more cultural control.

“I think we are starting to see resistance, so we’ll be testing this year. It’s potentially our biggest hurdle.”

Alan Ponder at Deal Hall Farm on the Essex marshes reckons it is easily his number one problem. “We were struggling with blackgrass control before Atlantis, so we need to protect it as long as possible.

“We use pre-em – Liberator or Crystal – on about 75% of the farm, and we always use a holding spray – Dicurane or Auxiliary. This season we applied all our Atlantis in spring, but the cold has affected performance.”

Guy Smith who farms 600ha at Rainfall at Wigboro Wick, St Osyth, in Essex, describes blackgrass as a huge issue. “I don’t like using pre-emergence sprays on our droughty soils, so I rely on Dicurane or Stomp followed by Atlantis.

“But blackgrass is really bad, so I might have to add Ice as a pre-emergence next year. But the whole programme could cost £80/ha, so I might be better off fallowing to control it.”

• Read the full profiles of our nabim/Crops Milling Wheat finalists:
Finalist 1 David White
Finalist 2 Guy Smith
Finalist 3 Alan Ponder