Docks, nettles and thistles are prolific in grass fields this year after the mild winter and early spring, with strong perennial weed growth since March.
“A shortened spray window last year, due to the late start to the season left many grass fields untreated,” explains David Roberts, grassland agronomist with Dow AgroSciences. “And the wet winter has also encouraged weed seeds to germinate in poached areas where soil was exposed.
“Conditions over the past two seasons have allowed large populations of problem weeds to establish and colonise large areas, to the point where they are now getting out of hand. I have seen many fields this spring with infestations of 30% weeds or more.”Spray between cuts
On fields that were not treated before first cut, spraying with a translocated herbicide three to four weeks before second cut will catch the weeds at the ideal stage. They will be actively growing, with fresh, clean leaves and all the same size across the field.
Select products that match the target weeds such as DoxstarPro for docks, and follow the label instructions carefully regarding dose rates and water
volumes to ensure the best control.
“Many livestock farmers are now looking to produce more from their grass. Getting rid of weeds is one area that can make a big difference to pasture productivity,” says Mr. Roberts.
“Research carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College proved that where weeds grow, grass does not. So a 30% infestation of docks or thistles could be hitting grass yields by almost a third.
“Some farmers try and top their way out of the problem – but this is a waste of time, labour and grass, as the weeds simply regenerate by pushing up new vegetative growth. A well-timed spray with an effective grass-safe herbicide offers a quicker and longer-term solution, and is cheaper than reseeding the whole field.”