Torr’s Talk: the impact of blackgrass

  • What type of impact does blackgrass have on a farm?

‘As we all know, blackgrass is a difficult weed to combat, or even manage, once it has established itself on-farm. The majority of blackgrass in the UK shows resistance to herbicide programmes and, as a vigorous and competitive weed, it is able to spread quickly.

A significant blackgrass problem will reduce the potential yield of any crop considerably. As a vigorous grass weed, it will compete with all cereals throughout the growing season for essential nutrients in the soil – particularly nitrogen (N). This can not only lead to a loss in terms of the overall yield produced, but it can reduce the cost-effectiveness of fertiliser applications as well. The real impact of this weed comes from its persistence, as the problems mentioned above worsen over a number of years, if it is not addressed quickly and effectively.’

  • What are the routes for bringing blackgrass onto clean farms?

‘Blackgrass can be brought onto a fam by a number of different methods. One of the most common ways is through bought-in straw or manures, which has travelled, often from other parts of the country. Contractors machinery is another way the seeds are moved from farm to farm. Another route to introducing blackgrass is by purchasing seed which Is contaminated. Although I would argue that this is not the most common cause, I would always suggest being vigilant when buying inputs to minimise any risks. This is why at Wynnstay we have decided to make a commitment to growers. We want to ensure that our contracted seed is ‘blackgrass free’ and doesn’t contribute in any way to spreading, an already serious, weed problem.’

  • How can Wynnstay guarantee ‘blackgrass free’ seed?

‘At Wynnstay, we ensure that the risk of blackgrass is removed by carefully selecting our seed growers and closely monitoring all seed crops throughout the growing season. We are in an almost unique position to be able to do this, as the vast majority of seed processors are located in the east of the UK, where the pressure from blackgrass is much higher. However, Wynnstay’s Hi-Gene Blackgrass Free Seed is grown in the western region, near to our Shrewsbury production plant, where the risk of blackgrass contamination is much lower. The guarantee of purity is confirmed by reports from official seed testing stations, which frequently indicate that Hi-Gene seed is totally free from any impurity at all, and especially blackgrass. We have also invested in our seed cleaning facilities, ensuring that any seed produced is of the highest quality available in the market.”

  • Do I need to request ‘blackgrass free’ seed when I place an order?

“To ensure that you receive Wynnstay’s contracted ‘blackgrass free’ seed this autumn, I would definitely advise you to mention your requirements when placing a seed order. This will mean that we can make sure you are provided with our own brand of ‘Hi-Gene Blackgrass Free Seed’ when fulfilling your order.

Richard Torr
Seed Sales Manager

Click here to contact Richard or any other member of our Arable team.

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