Farmers in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire should not ignore their spring clean up of broad-leaved weeds despite challenging conditions across the counties. Late May is typically the last opportunity to take out key problem weeds while fungicides are applied to tackle any disease pressures. A very dry April across the three counties has slowed crop growth and patchy rain is now reducing the number of spraying days available. Winter wheat crops are looking thin in places,” said Caroline Smith, commercial technical manager for the north 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 and probably not enough. 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. 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. Throughout April and May we have 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.”