Nirvana advised as weed defence for peas

The serious threat to vining pea crops posed by potato apples can be alleviated by the right use of pre-emergence herbicides, trials by Birds Eye have shown.

The frozen food giant, which terminated its contract with Anglia Pea Growers last month, has since released this trial data to help its remaining growers in the north of the country to grow the best possible crop.

The firm has been looking at ways of reducing the problem of potato apples, or berries as they are also known, in vining peas. It examined the efficacy of different dose rates of BASF's pre-emergence herbicide Nirvana.

Previous trials and commercial use by growers had already shown that using Nirvana reduced the number of potato berries going into the factory.

Birds Eye agronomy manager Andrew Whiting said the company looked at two different dose rates - three and three-and-a-half litres per hectare. The higher dose rate reduced the number of potato flowers (and hence the potato volunteer's ability to produce berries) by 78 per cent.

Whiting explained that potato berries are produced by potato tubers left in the soil from a previous crop and are of a similar size and colour to peas.

"If left in the crop, they will contaminate the vining pea and lead to rejection. We advise growers to use an integrated programme based on drilling dates and the use of Nirvana, which is the only really effective chemical solution," he added.

"Potato apples are formed on potato volunteers usually after the end of June. Vulnerable crops are therefore those that are harvested after this time."

Whiting added that Nirvana had given very good control of Black Nightshade, a common weed from the same family as potatoes, as well as a broad list of other weed species in peas.

Jonathan Ball, a pulse marketing specialist at BASF, commented: "Containing imazamox and pendimethalin, Nirvana controls the all important weeds in vining peas. Since they are uncompetitive early on, it is important that these weeds are removed as effectively as possible."

Nirvana is a recommended pre-emergence in all varieties.

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