Planned programme delivering lucrative lucerne returns
The go-to for farmers over the generations, high-producing, versatile, and drought tolerant, lucerne can still do with a hand when it comes to combatting weeds. And, ADAMA Marketing Manager Elisabeth Johnston says the company has just the programme to give it that support and provide farmers with extra return on investment.
Valued as a forage crop for over 3,000 years and enjoying a recent resurgence in popularity in this country the deep-rooted perennial legume can deliver up to 20 t DM/ha with the options of grazing for sheep, cattle and deer, as well as cutting for hay or baleage. Well-managed stands can also achieve a lifespan of 10 years or more, making it worth the effort to choose paddocks carefully, establish lucerne correctly and continue to protect it.
Targeted approach to maximise longevity and increase production
Without effective weed control, however, lucerne yield losses of 20%-40% have been reported along with an adverse impact on stand longevity.
With those factors in mind, ADAMA, one of the world’s leading crop protection companies, has developed a targeted lucerne programme designed to maximise the crop’s longevity, and to increase production.
The programme is spear-headed by Atranex® WG, a broad-spectrum herbicide which, combined with fast-acting companion herbicide Flash®, is recommended for control of weeds including; annual grass weeds, Shepherd’s purse, subterranean clover and storksbill. Taken up by the leaves and roots, Atranex gives knockdown and residual control of spring-germinating weeds, a bonus when storksbill or shepherds purse are getting a toehold in a lucerne paddock.
Flash is a non-selective, non-residual, fast-acting contact herbicide and is active on green plant tissue only. In established lucerne, Flash should be tank-mixed with Atranex. This combination ensures that weeds are burned off, and pre-emergence control are covered off with one application.
A proviso is that spraying in hot, dry conditions should be avoided as it will reduce efficacy.
As with much in farming, timing is everything. Elisabeth says a management system of established stands that includes grazing to the ground, or mowing, then giving the lucerne a bit of time to freshen before winter spraying will optimise results.
“One of the real risks of spraying too late is it could impact new shoots on the crown, which could delay growth and the next cut, or grazing opportunity.”
Where weed infestations are particularly bad, a repeat spray maybe required in spring.
While lucerne was once overwhelmingly winter-dormant, newer varieties can be winter-aggressive. These provide farmers with more flexible forage options but also demand more careful management.