Top tips on getting on top of the rush, docks and thistle problems
Grassland weeds are set to escalate over the next few weeks. Rushes thrived in last year’s wet summer, as they out competed grass on land with low soil fertility.
Poached fields and poor grass growth also allowed the docks and thistles to multiply. The seeds left in your pasture in 2017 from the above weeds will readily germinate and spread this year if action is not taken.
Why grass growth is important?
Growing more grass so it can actively compete with weeds such as rushes, is one way of preventing infestation. An acidic soil does not directly favor rushes, but it will significantly inhibit grass growth, so liming low ph. soils is essential.
This should be followed with an application of phosphorus and Potassium where necessary to bring your soil nutrient level to the optimum index 3 level.
Drainage, including new drains and cleaning of the existing drainage infrastructure can be an effective weed prevention measure. Identify what is the underlying cause of the waterlogged soil by digging test pits before remedial action such as field drains, sub-soiling or mole drains are considered.
How to control rushes?
The soft rush is the most common of the many rush species. It is recognised by the dense tuft of brown flowers coming from the side of the stems and a continuous white centre (pith) when the stem is peeled back
Soft rush can be controlled with MCPA or 2,4-D, applied in June or July when growth conditions are good and weather is suitable. Strong rushes should be cut and removed, with pesticide applied to the regrowth.
Weed wiping with a Glyphosate product such as Roundup or Gallup, using a tractor or quad, has the advantage of the product being applied primarily to the target plant.