Although spring cropping isn’t necessarily the most profitable or favoured way to grow crops, allowing a one or two-year break in winter cropping can significantly reduce black-grass weed burden.
Winter crops will normally yield higher, but spring crops will spread workload and help reduce weed numbers significantly, offering long-term gains.
Spring cropping offers the option of controlling black-grass plants prior to crop establishment through stale seedbeds and targeted control of bad patches if required. Spring-sown crops typically see 80% more control of black-grass than in fields that are autumn drilled, due to the fact the vast majority of black-grass plants germinate between August and October.
In cases where spring crops cannot be grown, delayed drilling is recommended. Crops drilled in mid-October rather than September can offer 30% better control of black-grass, and many emerging plants can be destroyed prior to drilling.
While spring crops typically yield lower than winter-sown crops, black-grass is the most threatening weed to crop yield, and in the worst cases, up to 50% of the crop can be lost.
Looked at across the rotation, spring cropping helps reduce weed numbers and supports yield in future seasons, so the yield drop from a spring crop may be less of a concern.
Find out more about how crop rotations can improve soil health, limit herbicide resistance, help with time and cost management, and break the cycle of black-grass.
Read our top five tips to help eliminate black-grass using cultural controls