Slow start to season will alter choices
As I write rain continues to fall and the start of spring seems a long way off. Most spring crops will be planted later than normal as only about 10pc were planted up by the end of March.
A later sowing generally results in seeds being sown into a warmer seedbed. At the very least it has the potential to warm up faster with the longer days and stronger sunshine. Crops should emerge and get through the growth stages faster. One can argue the weeds may do the same, but crop competition and timeliness of herbicide application becomes all the more important in a season like this one.
However, many winter crops appear to be ahead of normal in outward growth stages, despite the cool and wet conditions. Will this unusual season affect the way we will control weeds this year?
One thing that winter cereal growers should be particularly careful with is herbicide selection, since more advanced growth stages restrict the use of many hormone-based products.
Crops that received a good autumn herbicide are relatively weed-free. This is probably a result of almost perfect conditions for the herbicides to control weeds from time of application up to the middle of December.
Met Éireann classified the autumn as warm, dull and dry in most places – three conditions that allow herbicides to work to their optimum.
However, even though general weed control is good, there are still fields where attention is needed.
All fields should be inspected for weeds in early spring. Bring your field records from previous years to guide you towards areas in the field that were troublesome in the past.