Docks are taking advantage of current warm conditions and springing into active growth in silage leys across much of the UK, says David Roberts, grassland specialist with Dow AgroSciences.
“Docks roots can extend down into the soil many metres and reach water that grass roots can’t, giving them a head start. The higher than normal temperatures and sunshine have also stimulated weed growth, which is much earlier than the past two years.”
“Where a dock grows, grass doesn’t – so a 10% infestation will reduce grass yield by a corresponding amount, explains Mr Roberts.
“Where docks are present in fields shut up for silage, a broad-acre spray using a translocated herbicide containing triclopyr such as Doxstar, which is completely safe to grass, applied at least three weeks before cutting will be cost-effective. Spraying when the new dock growth is “dinner-plate” size will achieve the best results.”
Other weeds are also growing quickly, including chickweed, which is germinating now in new leys sown last autumn.
Quick to colonise any bare patches in gappy swards, it can soon outcompete perennial ryegrass for moisture, space and nutrients. Herbicides such as Doxstar and Pastor give good control against chickweed and will not harm the grass even when it is very young.