ASULAM, the only herbicide of practical use against large upland stands of bracken, has once again been granted an 'emergency authorisation' for that purpose, and will be available for a 10-week period this summer.

This application window opens on July 1 and closes on September 13. The manufacturer of the herbicide, UPL Europe Ltd, will be issuing supplies to distributors with a view to these being available to purchase for the start of the application period.

Despite its undeniable effectiveness against bracken, the product fell foul of the authorities because of its limited use by spinach growers in continental countries, and concern that aerial spraying was drifting to a number of other food crops. As a result, in 2011, a decision was made within the EU that the information available to demonstrate the safe use of Asulam was insufficient to justify registration under EU regulations.

Since then, the availablility of Asulam for bracken control has been maintained by a series of successful applications for emergency authorisations, submitted by the Bracken Control Group, and granted by the Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health and Safety Executive, on condition that application is by helicopter only, and that a buffer zone against surface water bodies of at least 90metres be strictly adhered to.

The Asulam page of the BCG's website – – has a link to this year's authorisation document and provides further details of the dates for the application season.

While UPL Europe have sought a long-term solution by applying for the re-registration of Asulam in the EU solely for bracken control, it is a lengthy and expensive process, and the latest indications are that bracken-sufferers may not hear the outcome until 2022.

The BCG has highlighted that the authorisation document contains data and information requirements that must be submitted to the Chemicals Regulation Division – and strongly encouraged users to participate in this process: "The support of everyone who applies Asulam to provide this information is essential; the provision of this information to CRD is a prerequisite to securing the future use of Asulam for bracken control," it said.