Good biosecurity and sourcing safe seed is required as weed infestation could be devastating for farmers, NFU Scotland has said.As many Scottish growers gear up for harvest, and make plans for planting this autumn, NFU Scotland and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds are warning them to be on the look-out for signs of black-grass.Black-grass is a weed, often resistant to normal herbicides, and once established can be one of the biggest challenges for an arable farmer to control. The Union has been contacted by a number of members in recent weeks, particularly from the Lothians area, reporting that they have discovered black-grass in recent batches of seed.NFUS and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds are urging Scottish arable farmers to be on their guard against the weed, which can spread quickly.Although problems in Scotland with black-grass are nowhere near the magnitude found in England, there are populations of black-grass weeds present naturally in Scotland.Warmer winters and more autumn cropping, combined with reduced tillage, is likely to encourage these populations to spread.Some may carry a degree of herbicide resistance if they have been regularly treated with black-grass active herbicides.
'Be vigilant'Ian Sands, NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee Chairman, who grows crops in Perthshire commented: "Thankfully the prevalence of black-grass in Scotland is a lot lower than that faced by our counterparts in England and Wales."Catching the weed early can ensure its spread to other cropping areas, or indeed onto neighbouring land, is prevented."We ask members to be vigilant and to also report any sightings of the weed to the relevant bodies."By asking merchants to supply seed specifically from Scotland, the risk of black-grass being discovered within the batch can be kept to a minimum."Gavin Dick, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Scotland Manager, said black-grass is a weed that farmers need to worry about."Even if you haven’t yet got it on your farm, so good biosecurity measures should be in place just as with animal diseases."The impact of getting an infestation on your farm could be devastating."We need to be extremely vigilant if these small, isolated populations of black-grass are to remain just that, rather than risk them spreading across the country as the weed has in England."