Black-grass control does not start with the pre-emergence herbicide programme. Doing everything possible to reduce the weed population before you drill the crop is key, and it means making good management decisions right from the off. Below is our guide to managing black-grass from harvest to drilling, starting with six general principles.
- Don’t plan on the back of last season – the right decision depends on the conditions in the field. But always factor in previous seasons' cultivations to understand the black-grass seedbank.
- Delayed drilling of winter wheat is a vital tool to control black-grass – cultivation needs to maximise the possible drilling window.
- Cultivation and establishment needs to create conditions for healthy, vigorous crops that can compete with black-grass. There is often a compromise between the ideal drilling date for early vigour and missing the main autumn flush of black-grass.
- Spring cropping is a reliable back-up option when autumn establishment is not possible. Cover crops can be a useful tool to establish spring crops and improve soil but the decision to use them needs to be made well in advance.
- Disturbing soil can prompt black-grass germination so establishment of any crop should be lower disturbance than any preceding cultivation.
- Good soil condition ensures good establishment and maximises crop competitiveness. It also contributes to good efficacy of pre-emergence herbicides.