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Treat Early and Take Control

Treat Early and Take Control of Yields and Profits!

Don’t be tempted to put off spraying for black-grass until the days are longer and the weather is warmer. According to a review of the data from trials conducted during the past few years, the amount of black-grass control delivered by Atlantis WG is reduced considerably by waiting until the New Year, or even early spring.

Treating early will give greater black-grass control, reduce yield losses and ultimately lead to higher profits.

“By the time you get to March and April the percentage control of black-grass could be as low as 50%, with average levels achieved of around 78%,” says Chris Cooksley, Bayer CropScience’s Herbicide Campaign Manager, “This is in marked contrast to average levels of control of 95% in November and even 90% in February.”

Chart 1

%control black-grass in May/June compared to untreated.
Data from multiple sites, years, black-grass levels and resistance status.

The variation in the level of control comes about because black-grass that is tillering is much more difficult to control, especially with the increase in EMR (Enhanced Metabolism Resistance). The longer that the black-grass is left, the more it competes with your wheat and affects your yield.

“In fact, yield figures continue to fall throughout the early part of the year and at the beginning of spring,” says Chris, “While treating for black-grass in October or November can lead to a reduction in wheat ears of less than 10 per cent from black-grass competition, this figure will increase for every month you decide not to treat. By the time you get to treating in April this has gone up to some 40 per cent loss. Even putting it off from March until April reduces the number of ears by a further 5%.”

Chart 2

% reduction of wheat ears in May/June compared to untreated
Data from multiple sites, years, black-grass levels and resistance status

Measuring the loss of yield in terms of tonnes/Ha reveals a similar picture, with losses rising to some 4 tonnes per hectare where treatment is postponed until April.

Ultimately putting off spraying can hit you in the pocket. If you can get out and treat for black-grass before Christmas, it will save you money in the long-term.

Chris Cooksley says that it is difficult to see why anyone would wait to treat if they have the option to go earlier. “Of course, there may well be practical reasons why you can’t get on to spray in November or December,” he says, “But all the research shows that the longer you leave it, the more it will cost you.

“Waiting for ‘late emergers’ or wild oats to come through is not a good reason to put off spraying. As each month passes you are losing more and more money. On the basis of a yield of 8 t/Ha and price of £140 per tonne, waiting until April could cost you some £450 per hectare compared to treating in November. Even going for March instead of April will make a difference to your yields, and therefore your profits.”

Chart 3

Financial penalty of lost yield based on yield of 8t/Ha and £140/tonne
Data from multiple sites, years, black-grass levels and resistance status