Summer weed trial seeks growers

The West Australian

WA grain growers with summer weeds such as button grass, fleabane, sowthistle and tar vine are sought to participate in weed management trials to be conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food during the current summer season as weeds emerge following rainfall.

The trials would be led by DAFWA principal research officer Abul Hashem as part of the project - Improving Integrated Weed Management Practice of Emerging Weeds in the Southern and Western Regions - funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

DAFWA research officer Mohammad Amjad said recent extensive summer rainfall and warm temperatures throughout the Wheatbelt had created ideal conditions for summer weeds to flourish.

"Prompt action by growers is required to control a range of emerging summer weeds by using appropriate chemical, physical or biological methods, such as grazing, to conserve soil moisture, and nutrients for the winter crops," Dr Amjad said.

"To achieve maximum weed control, it is important to spray the summer weeds when they are not stressed.

"Summer weeds, including Afghan melon, button grass, caltrop, couch, fleabane, roly-poly, sowthistle, tar vine, and windmill grass use available soil moisture and soil nutrients, reducing their availability for winter crops during the early stages of growth.

"Some summer weeds, such as caltrop, may have allelopathic effects on winter crops, leading to a reduction in the emergence and growth of crops. Additionally, summer weeds exacerbate the risk of herbicide resistance and produce a green bridge, leading to an increase in the risk of crop diseases."

DAFWA would carry out trials to manage summer weeds including button grass, fleabane, sowthistle and tar vine in summer-fallow paddocks throughout the Wheatbelt, regardless of soil, management or crop type.

The summer-fallow trials would increase understanding of the emerging weeds and evaluate the chemical and non-chemical options available to manage them.

The trials would not affect the winter cropping program of participating growers.

Dr Amjad said during 2015, summer field trials were undertaken with the co-operation of growers at Grass Valley, Jennacubbine, Mullewa and Geraldton.

"The 2015 trials applied several herbicides alone, as a tank mix or in sequence on a wide range of summer weeds," he said.

"While some herbicides were effective as a single application in some situations, applications of a mixture of glyphosate and 2, 4-D as a tank mix, followed by a paraquat-based knockdown, was highly effective on most weeds across all locations."

More information is available on the DAFWA website agric.wa.gov.au by searching for postharvest summer weeds, and a summer fallow weed management manual and podcasts are available on the GRDC website.

Growers interested in participating in the 2016 summer weed trial should contact Dr Abul Hashem on 9690 2136 or email abul.hashem@agric.wa.gov .au, or call Dr Mohammad Amjad on 9690 2249 or email mohammad.amjad@agric.wa.gov .au as soon as possible.

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