North: Weed control dilemma

It doesn’t seem possible, but harvest is still not over and wet weather is preventing the last remnants being collected. There will be numerous fathers up and down the country telling their sons “I can remember harvesting beans in December.”

September, better known as the harvest month, has not lived up to its name as depressions have rolled in from the Atlantic. On the positive side, drilled crops have chitted and emerged rapidly, which has helped keep slugs at bay.

Rapid germination is a two edged sword, as this also means rapid weed germination. Last year early post-emergence sprays of pendimethalin and diflufenican provided excellent control of annual meadowgrass and most broadleaved weeds. This year could be different as emerged broadleaved weeds and tillered meadowgrass are different beasts.

Volunteer Beans and oilseed rape also prove a challenge and as we have passed 1 October, neat mecroprop is no longer an option.

It would be remiss of me not to mention pre-emergence herbicide sprays, or the lack of them. False seed-beds and glyphosate are crucial in the battle against pernicious weeds.

This followed by robust pre-emergence programmes are the building blocks for good weed control. The reduced availability of pre-emergence products has led to a lot of innovative tank mixes to try and plug the hole. Unfortunately, I fear this may fall short of the level of control we hope for.

In general, oilseed rape has established well and volunteer cereals have been controlled with a graminicide and a top up of a metazachlor-based product, subject to availability.

Currently, I have seen no phoma lesions and future disease spray programmes will be based around variety susceptibility and monitoring. It was pleasing to receive the first e-mail informing that it was too early to spray propyzamide. I know that the green light will arrive as I am shovelling snow off the drive and the chances of spraying are zero.

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