Science Into Practice - The importance of weed control in rhubarb crops

Efficient and cost-effective weed control is as important in rhubarb as it is with other crops to prevent yield loss as a result of competition for water and nutrients and to enable efficient harvesting.

Rhubarb is enjoying a revival and multiples have an increasing interest in this crop, which has the potential for a 10-month season. Effective weed management will become more important to allow supply to keep up with demand.

Simazine and dichlobenil, previous mainstays for weed control, have been withdrawn and most herbicide programmes for rhubarb are based on pendimethalin and propyzamide.

The Sustainable Use Directive and Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 are likely to place residual herbicides under threat. The future availability of pendimethalin and propyzamide is uncertain.

Consultation with growers has confirmed support for work to identify alternative herbicides that provide a good spectrum of weed control, with a high priority for "problem weeds", and potential replacements for products being lost.

Although there is a SOLA for glyphosate, the short dormant season of the crop gives few windows for treatment. Since the loss of dichlobenil, perennial weed infestations are on the increase.

HDC project SF 129 aims to improve weed control by identifying alternative herbicide options and controls for more difficult weeds. For further details, visit the HDC website.


Narcissus Technical Seminar. Duchy College, Camborne, Cornwall, 5 May.

HDC Bulbs Panel Meeting. Spalding, 17 May.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activity, visit

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