Profits And Black Grass

Profits and Black-grass

After a break crop, a first wheat can perform well, even with some black-grass present, achieving yields of 4t/acre. However, some farms are getting nearer 5t/acre and 4t/acre in second and third wheat.

Yet, if black-grass is present in the first wheat,  then second and third wheats can become unviable. Spring crops may then be introduced into the rotations with limited herbicide options which, again, fill up with black-grass. The proftability of a farm with these issues can take a rapid downward spiral making a return to full profitability almost impossible unless the drilling system is changed allowing for late drilling of crops in all conditions.

Late drilling is highly profitable if you can get the seed set securely. Residual herbicide is more effective in late-sown damp conditions. Take-all will have subsided, and £120 herbicide stacks can be reduced as low as £20/ha.

Late drilling up to the end of January averages 4t/acre in HGCA trials. Click the button below for further information.

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Varieties such as Siskin have yielded 5t/ac in December plantings.

Only about 40% of black-grass seed will germinate in a one-pass false seed bed. If the grass is then destroyed and a second false seed bed is made it might take 3 weeks for the auxins to subside and the next flush of grass weeds to emerge. This time a higher percentage of the remaining grass seed will germinate because most seeds will be less densely spaced within the range of other plants auxins.

When a third false seed bed is made often 90% of the final seed bank will germinate as almost no seed is near enough to other seedlings to be halted by auxins.

per sq. meter

false seed bed 1 100 grass seeds 40% control 60 seeds remain
false seed bed 2 60 grass seeds 60% control 24 seeds remain
false seed bed 3 24 grass seeds 90% control 2 seeds remain

Three false seed beds can give 1000% better cultural grass-weed control than one false seed bed.

The all-important part of this strategy is the Triton seed drill because the crops will be late drilled. The Triton can drill in virtually any conditions and shut the slot. The Triton is also non-inversion which is vital since the last semi-germinated blackgrass plants must be left on the surface when the wheat is drilled.