Escalating herbicide resistance and the progressive loss of key pre- and post-em chemistry, has made what we do between harvesting one crop and planting the next more crucial than ever in keeping on top of yield-robbing black-grass, ryegrass and bromes.
Gone are the days when stubbles were things we dealt with as rapidly and cheaply as we could between the far more important priorities of combining and drilling. Instead, managing them has become a strategic essential we put too little thought, time and effort into at our peril.
Alongside the particular weed burden, the most appropriate stubble management strategy for the farm will, Roundup specialist Tom Scanlon believes, depend on two main things – the main establishment regime and the current cropping pattern.
When is the best time to cultivate then? Well, in no-till systems, the answer is clearly never. But for the majority of growers min-tilling, ploughing or using a rotational plough ahead of autumn or spring drilling without a catch or cover crop, Tom Scanlon suggests the best approach is to wait until after spraying-off the first flush of weed growth. And only then if soil conditions are right.
Top Ten Stubble Management Tips
- Give stubble management the importance it deserves in your agronomy;
- Make combining your first cultivation, with the best straw chopping and spreading;
- Avoid cultivating immediately after combining unless strictly necessary;
- Achieve two stubble glyphosate sprays with a cultivation between them wherever possible;
- Use the correct rates of a quality glyphosate for the most reliable stubble weed control;
- Where minimum tillage is the main regime keep it shallow;
- Take care to achieve total inversion with rotational ploughing;
- Employ the right catch/cover crop mixtures for the rotation;
- Establish and destroy catch and cover crops effectively enough;
- Include a permitted glyphosate in the pre-em to tackle early seedbed weed emergence.