Loss of the herbicide simazine forces a rethink

The loss this autumn of the herbicide simazine will force many winter bean growers to reconsider their weed control options, according to BASF legume product manager Jonathan Ball.

Ball has reminded growers that the residual-acting herbicide Nirvana could take its place.

He said: "Nirvana, which contains imazamox and pendimethalin, was introduced to the UK market last year and is recommended pre-emergence in all varieties of winter beans as well as in vining peas, combining peas and spring beans.

"It provides strong residual activity and excellent over-winter weed control, with very good crop safety."

Nirvana controls charlock, common poppy, fat-hen and speedwells as well as common chickweed, fumitory, henbit dead-nettle, red dead-nettle and scarlet pimpernel.

"Imazamox enhances the control of several key weeds, such as charlock, black-bindweed, cleavers and volunteer oilseed rape, compared with equivalent rates of straight pendimethalin," Ball said.

"Consequently, Nirvana offers a broader weed spectrum than straight pendimethalin.

"It also offers useful additional bonus activity in the suppression of grass weeds such as black grass and annual meadow grass."

To help get the best from Nirvana this autumn, BASF's Steve Dennis has advised growers to make sure that seed is fully covered and drilled to a depth of at least 25mm settled soil. He said: "It is important to level and consolidate loose, cloddy or open tilth before application, particularly if winter beans are sown by broadcasting and ploughing-in of the seed.

"The recent milder autumns have made it easier to produce better seedbeds for beans, which will, of course, improve the overall efficacy of the pre-emergence herbicides. Nirvana is applied pre-emergence of the crop and should not be applied once the crop plumule is less than 13mm from the soil surface. The soil and seedbed requirements and precautions are essentially the same as for the residual-acting Stomp 400 SC."

Dennis advised that in winter beans Nirvana should be applied at the full rate of 4.5 litres/ha for maximum over-winter activity and optimum efficacy when under high weed pressure.

"For general weed control in low to moderate weed populations, Nirvana applied between three and four litres/ha will be appropriate for many situations," he said.

"It can also be used at 2.5 to three litres/ha in conjunction with suitable tank-mix partners such as clomazone for enhanced control of problem weeds such as cleavers or shepherd's purse. But this lower rate may weaken Nirvana's activity on other key weeds such as Polygonum species."

Winter beans have seen a significant upturn in interest as a useful break crop on medium and heavy soils, as a consequence of their increased price and the escalating cost of nitrogen required for other arable crops.

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