Agronomist and farmers have reported notably higher brome populations in cereal fields across some UK regions in recent seasons

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There are many bromes , but for the purposes of control of the weed -which some suggest has beome more prevalent since the advent of managed field margins and wider adoption of mintill -they are not all alike .Knowing which of the two distinct species groups is present in a problem area is the key to effective control.

This is the emphasis from researchers , weed scientists and agronomists when questioned on what can be done to tackle a brome problem , after a succession of recent years during which field reports of issues with the weed increased markedly .

Distinctive appearance

NIABTAG weed expert John Cussans points out bromes have not been alone among weeds in benefiting from the lack of decent frosts in recent winters .But their disctinctive appearance , when concentrated in patches , has made them particulary more noticeable , he suggests .The weather has aided their growth , but other practices have helped their spread .

“Bromes sit between black-grass and wild oats in terms of their effect on cereal yields , with barren /sterile brome having the most significant impact , at 2,4 % winter wheat yield loss where there are three plants /sq.m. But , of course , there are also the other problems they can cause , such as logding and combining difficulties .”

Field margin schemes

“Bromes aren´t classic weeds of arable situations , being typically more commonly found in field margins and uncropped areas such as beneath pylons. But the introduction of field margin schems has aided brome establishment in some cases , particulary where the margin seed mix hasn´t establishment well.Manage margin areas with the same attention to detail as the crop in body of the field , ensuring good seed mix establishmement and growth , and this weed seed source will be minimised .”

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The other key aid to propagation of bromes has been the move to minimum tillage , says Mr. Cussans.

“Ploughing obviously buries shed seed deep , from where it cannot emerge – although barren brome , for example ,does have a seed of longevity of one to five years .No-till , on the other hand ,leaves it on the field surface , where it is exposed and ripens .But min-till of the top few centimentres of soil buries it just deep enough to invoke dormancy and create problems later “.

Preventing spread is a matter of managing field boundaries to ensure they are distinct and clean ,ensuring cultivation close to field boundaries does not drag out and disperse weed material , and preperly establishing any margins with their intended species .

“Brome species indentification , though , is critical to pre-drilling control of a problem that´s already become established in the body of a field , ” says Mr.Cussans .

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