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Keeping one step ahead of resistance with Syngenta herbicide

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Grain grower, Des Hickey, has successfully incorporated a new pre-emergent herbicide into his weed management program to stay one step ahead of herbicide-resistant Annual Ryegrass.

Together with his wife, Sue, Des grows wheat, barley, canola, field peas and lupins on several properties centred on “Muirton Farms”, near Corrigin in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.

Last year, he direct-drilled 1800ha of wheat, 1400ha of barley, 400ha of canola and 400ha of lupins using a no-till seeder fitted with knife points and press wheels.

Soils range from heavy clays to yellow sands while the average annual rainfall varies from 370mm at the western end of the 10 kilometre long property to 340mm at the eastern end.

Testing on his property has revealed resistance levels of 60 per cent to Group A ‘fops’ and 60 per cent to Group A ‘dims’ but no resistance to Group D products, such as trifluralin.

“We’ve been relying heavily on trifluralin to control the ryegrass so we’re always on the lookout for new ways of managing resistant ryegrass,” he said. “Boxer Gold is from a different chemical group and if you can put off the day when resistance is going to rise up and hurt you, you’re going to be better off.”

Developed by leading crop protection company, Syngenta , Boxer Gold is a Group J/K herbicide that provides a much-needed alternative mode of action and greater flexibility than other pre-emergent herbicides.

It is registered for the control of Annual Ryegrass and Toadrush in both wheat and barley, although preliminary trial work has shown activity against several other major grass and broadleaf weed species.

Unlike trifluralin, it has a seven day incorporation window, has good crop safety in both wheat and barley, has no plant-back restrictions to crops sown the following season and can be used in either full disturbance or minimum tillage seeding systems.

Des decided compare the performance of Boxer Gold and trifluralin in a block he purchased five years ago. “We treated 200ha in two adjacent paddocks that were a mat of knee-high ryegrass when we bought the place,” he said.

The paddocks, which had been continuously cropped for five years, were treated with glyphosate in late April and then a second application of glyphosate and 2,4-D ester in mid May followed by a tank-mix of Spray.Seed and either Boxer Gold or trifluralin a week before sowing to Stiletto wheat.

The weed spectrum in both paddocks also included Barley grass, Brome grass, Capeweed, Turnip and Radish.

“We got a great result with the Boxer Gold, which worked much better than the trifluralin,” Des said.

“There was hardly any ryegrass in the area treated with Boxer Gold, which surprised me because they’ve been problem paddocks for a long time.

“Boxer Gold’s seven-day incorporation window allows us to apply it up to a week before sowing, giving us much more flexibility.

Based on this experience, Des incorporated Boxer Gold into his weed control program, which is individually tailored for each paddock depending on its weed spectrum, loading and history.

“We use everything we possibly can to eliminate ryegrass before it sets seed,” he said.

“In really bad areas, we might trail a chaff cart behind the header to catch ryegrass seed and then burn the chaff and windrows.

“We’ll still use trifluralin while we can, but if we’re smart in the way we use Boxer Gold we should be able to prolong the useful life of both products.”

Des also used the broad spectrum fungicidal seed treatment, Dividend, to protect his barley against smuts, bunts and Rhizoctonia.

“Our consultant recommended it as a cost-effective seed treatment, especially when we’re growing barley on barley,” he said. “We treated all our barley with it this year and it’s giving us very good results. It could come into its own in wheat on wheat situations to help prevent carry-over of root diseases.  

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