Weed management focus at WANTFA walk

31 Jul, 2012 02:00 AM
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GrainGrowers field officer Ray Morgan (left) and Grower Group Alliance project officer Rebecca Wallis.
GrainGrowers field officer Ray Morgan (left) and Grower Group Alliance project officer Rebecca Wallis.

WEEDS were the main focus at last week's WA No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) post seeding field walk at the association's Cunderdin trial site.

About 120 people attended the day but surprisingly the majority of them weren't local, instead travelling from up to 300 kilometres to take part in the day.

WANTFA executive director David Minkey said it was hard for the day's program not to focus on weed management considering the condition of this year's trial paddock about three kilometres north of town.

"The site has quite a poor soil type and with that comes low capacity," he said.

"It has been challenging but it's also very reflective of a lot of paddocks in this region this year."

It was also Mr Minkey's presentation on the effect of pre-emergent herbicides on ryegrass control when dry sowing wheat that got the most attention from growers.

Mr Minkey demonstrated that just as it had done for the last two seasons, Sakura once again outperformed Boxer Gold and trifluralin in the pre-emergent trial.

But he was also careful to mention that when the seeding of trials were delayed and undertaken in wet and cold conditions the results weren't as clear cut.

"The crop condition effect is massive," Mr Minkey said.

"Where the trials were sown early and emerged early the crop continues to bound away under warm conditions.

"But those which were late germinating and have experienced three or four frosts have seen the wheat slow down and the weeds over take the crop."

Mr Minkey said the majority of the trials were still performing well after a reasonably good start to the season but a couple of dry weeks had seen a number of the trial plots suffer from weather stress as well.

"That's what we're continuing to find with some of our pre-emergent applications," he said.

"The pre-emergents work better in trials that are well placed and are in good growing conditions.

"Where there are poor conditions the weeds start to out compete the wheat and where the pre-emergents haven't worked at all the weeds are really bad."

Mr Minkey said the key message for growers was that if they planned to dry seed really good weed control was crucial and better still, seeding into a low weed seed burden would be their best bet.

But if growers could get their pre-emergents working well, Mr Minkey said they could probably afford to sow within a more conventional time frame.

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