An established weed of the northern cropping region, feathertop Rhodes grass is now becoming a problem for grain growers in parts of the southern region.
Feathertop Rhodes (FTR) grass was once common only on roadsides and fencelines, but as with many emerging problem weeds in non-traditional areas, it has been favoured by the shift in cropping systems to minimum tillage so is now more widespread.
However, with an integrated weed management (IWM) approach, effective control is possible, according to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and weed management authorities.
The GRDC has just published a fact sheet to assist growers with management of this tufted annual grass which grows up to one metre tall and has a distinctive seed head of between seven and 19 feathery spikes.
According to the fact sheet, FTR grass is a difficult weed to manage, but if seed production can be limited, effective weed control can be achieved. Other key points contained in the fact sheet include:
- FTR grass can be relatively tolerant to glyphosate, especially after early tillering.
- Choose competitive cultivars and use planting densities to improve crop competition.
- Select crops that allow the in-crop use of grass-selective (Group A) herbicides and residual herbicides. If FTR grass is concentrated in a particular paddock, rotate away from crops with limited FTR grass control options.
- Group A herbicides have a high risk of resistance developing, so only use them as part of a carefully considered IWM plan.
- Always sow crops into weed-free conditions.
The fact sheet is available for viewing and downloading via www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-FeathertopRhodesGrass. More information on management of FTR grass is also available via www.grdc.com.au/weedlinks, the WeedSmart agricultural industry resource hub www.weedsmart.org.au, and the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) website www.ahri.uwa.edu.au.
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
Phone 0409 675100