Where black-grass exists in land in arable production, it must be controlled. Its competitive and prolific nature make it not only one of the most yield-robbing weeds, but one than can affect the whole rotation.
Defeating black-grass requires a long-term approach across multiple crops within the rotation, where each method of control builds in the success of the last.
Here at the black-grass task force we have developed the 4 building blocks of black-grass control to help and advise you on how to get better control and reduce the populations of black-grass on your farm. When tackling black-grass remember:
1. Check your population.
Summer is a great time of year for starting to get to grips with your black-grass population. Once plants have grown above the crop canopy, take time to confirm the location of your worst patches and the number of plants/m2. It is also the time to take seed samples for resistance testing.
2. Cultivations are our best defence against the build-up of black-grass populations; they can prevent yield loss from the outset.
Whether you choose to create a stale seedbed, plough, or min-till, cultivations as part of your cultural control strategy can reduce black-grass levels before it has a chance to compete with the crop for light, water and nutrients
3. Crop competition gives black-grass a hard time
By delaying drilling, choosing a more competitive variety and/or increasing seed rates, you can make it harder for black-grass to grow and reproduce
4. Chemistry is the back stop of any robust control programme
Choose herbicides with different modes of action throughout the rotation to reduce selection pressure on the population. Use them at the right time to get the most effective control possible. For residuals this is at true pre-emergence; within 48 hours of drilling the crop. For post-emergence chemistry, spray when black-grass is at the 1-3 leaf stage and actively growing; this is usually in the autumn.