Science Into Practice - Alternative herbicides for asparagus crops

Weeds reduce asparagus crops' yield and quality of spears and delay crop maturity, while nettles and thistles deter pickers. Some herbicides can cause damage and affect quality.

Effective herbicides have been lost as a result of the Pesticide Review 91/414/EEC. There may be further losses under new regulations and herbicide dose rates may be reduced at product re-registration.

There are nine selective herbicides left for asparagus. None are authorised for use in the harvest period. Frequent use of the limited range of herbicides has led to a build-up of weed species that are less susceptible.

A survey of growers in 2004 reported that thistles, nettles, field bindweed and fat-hen were frequently occurring, with black nightshade, groundsel and cleavers the most serious problems. Since then, SOLAs for clopyralid, metamitron and clomazone may have helped.

The objectives of HDC project FV 372 were to identify alternative herbicides to replace those lost in the EC review, evaluating products applied pre-emergence of spears or post-harvest and to select the most promising candidates for submitting applications for SOLAs. For full details of this project and the final report, see

Dates for your diary

HDC Protected Edibles Panel Meeting, University of Worcester, 8 June 2011.

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HDC Protected Ornamentals Panel Meeting, Bradbourne House, 9 June.

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For details on all HDC activity, visit

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