A promising weed-control alternative to the vegetable farmer’s friend, linuron, is coming through testing well.

Early results from a four-year crop protection research project have identified metobromuron as having potential to fill the gap that will be left for many vegetable growers when the herbicide linuron is withdrawn from use in June, 2018.

It is being tested to increase understanding of its use and performance in carrot, parsnip and celery crops as part of AHDB Horticulture-funded SCEPTREplus trials.

Growers who viewed trials of it in the summer also identified five further herbicide treatments that were considered acceptable with regard to crop safety and will now be taken forward for further testing.

Angela Huckle, one of the lead researchers at ADAS, said: “Metobromuron has performed well as an alternative to linuron in the trials, and although it can check the crop, compared to linuron, growers are perfectly happy with this when they can gain effective weed control and the effect is very slight.

“It is also encouraging to see five further herbicide options for carrot growers also looking promising within the trials.”

Joe Martin, a crop protection senior scientist, added: “The SCEPTREplus trials are already generating valuable data that we can now use to make applications to generate Extensions of Authorisations of Minor Use, which are vital in helping to keep the horticulture industry productive in the future”

Linuron has been a key component of both pre- and post-emergence weed control for many years and will leave a big hole in the crop protection toolbox.