November 14, 2017

Weed control around France

Stubborn broadleaved weeds in Berry, central France

Alongside wheat and barley, oilseed rape (OSR) is one of the three main crops grown in Berry and on many farms it is the most important.  Weeding is challenging, particularly where plots are infested with Cranesbills and grasses as well as cornflowers, poppies, umbellifers and milk thistles.

In a region where cereals and oilseeds make up two-thirds of the total arable crop area OSR has a special place. The region of Berry straddles the two departments of Indre and Cher. Depending on the year, OSR covers about 52,000 ha in Cher and 48 000 ha in Indre, making it the third most important crop after wheat and barley and ahead of maize, sunflower and protein crops. Berry is a region with varied, shallowish clay-lime soils across most of the area. No-till is quite widespread.

No-tillage means simplified rotations

Farmers have often opted for simplified rotations, with short wheat-OSR-barley rotations. They generally have to deal with heavy weed infestations with Cranesbills causing the greatest concern. They are also hampered by grasses and broadleaved weeds such as cornflowers, poppies and umbellifers like cow parsley. Milk thistle has been historically present in the region and is also difficult to get rid of.

In recent years, farmers have been facing multiple pressures – a rise in herbicide-resistant weeds, grass weeds and now broadleaved weeds. OSR establishment is often complicated, with soils being very heterogeneous and tending to dry out. In 2016, for example, dry autumn sowing conditions reduced OSR areas by 50 to 70% compared to a normal season.

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