Farmers in Eastern England should spring clean their fields of broad-leaved weeds despite dry conditions posing challenges for cereals growers. Late May is typically the last opportunity to take out key problem weeds while fungicides are applied to tackle any disease pressures. But one of the driest Aprils on record is slowing progress for some of the region’s cereal growers. “The lack of rain has led to thin crops of winter wheat,” said Rob Suckling, commercial technical manager at Dow AgroSciences.
“Soils are more exposed and the weeds are coming through. We’ve seen some rain in the past few days but not much. When it does come it will bring the crops on but the weeds will come with them. Many growers are in two minds over whether to take out the weeds now or wait for rain so they can catch anything else that comes through. We can already see groundsel, mayweeds, chickweed, cleavers and speedwells with poppies apparent on lighter land.”
The UK as a whole has seen just 47% of the average April rainfall, according to the MET Office. “One Essex grower I have spoken to has recorded just 140ml of rain on his farm since the end of June last year,” Rob added. It is a similar picture for spring cereals growers whose crops have struggled to establish well in variable conditions. On lighter land fat hen, black bindweed and thistles can be found in spring cereals.
“We’ve had warm days and cold nights – even a frost or two – so it has been challenging for growers. If you factor in competition from weeds, it only complicates the picture further, so many growers will be looking at spraying off those weeds now to give their spring crops the best possible chance. Growers who don’t pay attention to the weed spectrum are only storing up problems for harvest and creating a seed return for future years.”
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