Growers are being advertised to have ‘phenomenal patience’ and a willingness to change soil management to control blackgrass, ahead of autumn crop establishment. Dick Neale, technical manager for Hutchinsons, believes that the dry conditions over harvest will provide the ideal opportunity to move from plough and deep cultivations to shallow tillage on the worst infested fields.
He says that the best way to reduce blackgrass populations is to keep weed seeds in the top 50mm where they can be managed in a controlled way. “Shallow tillage will not only chit these seeds but, over time, improve soil health and structure”.
Patience is being urged however. “This is the most friable part of the soil. If it is worked too early or too fine it will become overweathered and harder to drill in wet conditions, “he says. He also warns that stale seedbeds to create a flush of blackgrass will be ineffective if conditions are too dry, so encourage growers to wait for sufficient moisture.
As for spring drilling, autumn cultivations should leave fields in a condition where the only soil moved in the spring is with the drill, so that the ground can retain organic matter over winter.