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The Brome Problem

Brome has spread into fields from ditches and headlands to become a severe and persistent problem in wheat. Each Brome head, or panicle, is capable of producing more than 500 seeds. Populations as low as two to five per square metre can reduce winter wheat yields by up to 1t/ha.

Brome can also encourage lodging, and reduce crop quality due to weed seed contamination and higher moisture levels. Furthermore, the risk of ergot in the wheat crop is increased by the presence of grass weeds.

There are five species of Brome common in arable crops. They can be divided into two botanical families, the Anisantha family of Barren Brome and Great Brome (Anisantha sterilis and A. diandra), and the Serrafalcus family of Rye, Soft and Meadow Brome (Bromus secalinus, B. hordeaceus ssp hordeaceus and B. commutatus).
Identifying the species is difficult but important, since all have specific germination and dormancy characteristics that influence their management.