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Biggest window of opportunity for black-grass control since 2012 For the first time in five years, cereal growers have a rare window of opportunity to hit black-grass hard, suggests Phillippa Overson (right), who has recently joined BASF as market manager for cereal herbicides and PGRs. Following a kind autumn, good sowing conditions and high black-grass dormancy, many are taking great solace from low weed pressure; however, Ms Overson is rallying farmers to not let up on driving populations as low as they can possibly go. “A clean black-grass year would bring huge relief and very welcome yield gains following stubbornly high populations resulting from the seed burden legacy of the wet autumn of 2012,” she says. “But before breathing a sigh of relief and closing the metaphorical gate on spring weed control, we need to be mindful that warming, wet soils over the coming months could encourage a flush of blackgrass, as well as other grass and broad-leaved weeds.”

Usually at this time of year weeds are large, abundant and, in winter cereal crops, requiring a robust contact herbicide programme to try and knock back numbers. “However, this season we have a rare opportunity to use pendimethalin-based residual chemistry instead; it’s perfect timing, just when the autumn residuals – which, incidentally, worked very well in 2016 – are running out of steam,” she adds. “Fortuitously these offer alternative modes of action to the traditionally applied sulfonylureas (SU) at this point in the season, taking pressure off contact herbicide

options such as Atlantis WG.” Ms Overson recommends two residual products – Stomp Aqua and Picona – which she notes are also strong at controlling other grass and broad-leaved weeds, including those that are susceptible to ALS-resistance, such as poppy and chickweed. Where spring crops are concerned, take all the cultural opportunities that you can. “Do as you would do in the autumn, use stale seedbeds and opt for high-tillering, compact varieties of spring barley or spring wheat, such as KWS Kilburn and Belepi, plus, make sure seed rates are appropriate for the situation and that you apply

a pre-emergence residual. Prepare as good a seedbed as you can and then wait, wait and wait until you have a market agreed if you are opting for spring barley.” Ruth Stanley, who farms blackgrass prone land in Leicestershire alongside a role within BASF, said that the weed burden on her farm is exceptionally low this season. “I’m not resting on my laurels though, because I’ve seen how bad the black-grass can be here. This spring is a golden opportunity to blitz the population with the application of residual followed by spraying off any very bad patches of resistant blackgrass within the standing crop.” ■

Residual herbicide options for spring application Active ingredient

Max rate (l/ha)


Latest timing


Spring barley



Pre-emergence before 30th March in England & Wales, before 16th April in Spring wheat (sown in Scotland. autumn/winter) Post-emergence (before GS30) only on crops drilled before 1st February


Stomp Aqua




Pendimethalin + picolinafen

3.0 (pre-em) 2.0 (post-em)

Spring wheat and Spring barley

Pre-emergence or post-emergence (before GS30)



Pendimethalin + flufenacet


Spring barley

Before GS23 of the Crop


• Proven efficacy in trials • Strong on Cleavers and Volunteer OSR • + BETASANA TRIO = Excellent weed control • + BETASANA TRIO = Excellent value for money UNTREATED


• Comprehensive tank-mix list and technical support

Shiro is a registered trademark of UPL Europe Ltd. Shiro contains triflusulfuron-methyl. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

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Farmers Guide Magazine February 2017 Issue