WITH all the hoo-ha going on about glyphosate, it's not the right time to forget about blackgrass, a leading expert on this pernicious weed has warned.

While the blackgrass was actually not as bad this harvest, those who have the problem have been warned not to rest on their laurels. “Complacency has been a historical problem in the control of blackgrass, with trends typically following a pattern of good control years followed by particularly bad years,” pointed out independent agronomist, Dr Stephen Moss.

“Last season saw good conditions for blackgrass control with pre-emergence herbicide programmes working well, which makes it even more important not to let your guard down during the critical crop establishment period this autumn.

“Not becoming complacent is vital, especially now that there is greater reliance on pre-emergence herbicides which are best applied soon after drilling and before you can see the extent of the blackgrass problem. An appreciable amount of blackgrass seeds can survive for two to three years in the seedbed, so looking back at field history beyond a single season, is vital.”

He said taking a long-term view to blackgrass control is the key to future control. “Considering how much blackgrass was present in summer 2015 and 2016, is as important as considering how much was there last summer.

By looking back at least two or three seasons, growers are able to gain a real understanding of blackgrass pressure and approach control accordingly,” he argued.

As many growers now drill late as part of a blackgrass strategy, Dr Moss said that higher soil moisture and cooler conditions should help the efficacy of pre-emergence herbicides, such as flufenacet. “Therefore, including a pre-em herbicide, such as Sunfire or System 50, in a late drilling scenario is vital. Keeping up pressure against this damaging weed is even more important this year to ensure that we are building upon last year’s success," he said.