Growers warned over blackgrass spread into Scotland

Scottish cereal growers are reporting that they have found blackgrass in recent batches of seed prompting warnings to prevent the spread of this pernicious grassweed.

A number of NFU Scotland members, particularly in the Lothian region, have found the grassweed in recent weeks in batches of seed.

Although blackgrass in Scotland is not as serious as further south, warmer winters and more autumn cropping combined with reduce tillage is likely to encourage its spread.

See also: Growers need to react now after bad blackgrass year

Therefore, NFU Scotland and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds are urging growers to take the following precautions:

  • Watch out for new or spreading blackgrass populations. Remove small populations by hand rouging or spraying off.
  • Make sure machinery coming to the farm has been properly cleaned, especially if it has come from England.
  • Source straw and seed from reputable sources.
  • If herbicide resistance is suspected, get seed tested so correct management decisions can be made.

Ian Sands, who farms in Perthshire and is NFU Scotland combinable crops committee chairman, says catching the weed early can prevent its spread.

“We ask members to be vigilant and to also report any sightings of the weed to the relevant bodies. By asking merchants to supply seed specifically from Scotland, the risk of blackgrass being discovered within the batch can be kept to a minimum,” he says.

Gavin Dick, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Scotland manager, adds: “We need to be extremely vigilant if these small, isolated populations of blackgrass are to remain just that, rather than risk them spreading across the country as the weed has in England.”

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