Weed Biology

poppy in oilseed rape

Understanding weed biology enables more effective management

A weed is a plant in an undesired place. Weeds can often compete with crop plants for nutrients and resources and/or harbour and spread pests or diseases which infect or degrade the quality of crops. Although many weeds have undesirable consequences they can also provide a key ecological role.


Common weed problems

Blackgrass

Blackgrass in oilseed rape

Blackgrass is the most important grassweed infesting cereal and oilseed rape rotations in the UK.

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Cleavers

Cleavers in oilseed rape

Cleavers have long caused problems to oilseed rape growers, due to the competitive nature of the weed, and the way it can grow across the canopy late in the season.

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Mayweed

Mayweed in oilseed rape

Mayweeds are common and high profile annual or hardy-annual composite weeds.

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Poppy field

Poppy in oilseed rape

Poppies are as competitive as blackgrass and mayweed.

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Blackgrass

Blackgrass

Blackgrass is a major problem to UK farmers.

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Brome

Brome

Bromes in recent years have become more widespread.

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Ryegrass

Ryegrass

Ryegrass distribution is more widespread and significant where grass leys form part of the rotation.

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Wild Oats

Wild Oats

Wild oats are distributed from Yorkshire to Devon, and the intense arable areas of south and east Scotland.

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Chickweed

Common Chickweed

Common chickweed is found all over the UK.

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Mayweed

Mayweed

There are several widely distributed species including Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed and Pineappleweed.

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Vol Beans

Volunteer Beans

Volunteer beans compete with establishing winter cereals in the autumn. Volunteer beans can also cause problems for contact graminicides as large bean volunteers can shade grassweeds and limit contact.

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Cleavers

Cleavers

Cleavers infestations have the potential to cause very considerable crop losses.

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Broadleaved Weeds

Broad-leaved Weeds

Broad-leaved weeds in arable crops.

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Nettles

Nettles

Grass yield / grazing is lost mainly by competition from nettles for nutrients, light and moisture, but also from stock refusing to graze close to nettles.

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Thistles

Thistles

Thistles compete with grass for space, light, nutrients and water, and they are unpalatable to stock.

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Docks

Docks

Docks are the most pernicious and damaging of all grassland weeds.

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Ragwort

Ragwort

Ragwort poses a serious threat to livestock health. Left unchecked, it can quickly spread and reduce available grazing.

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Buttercups

Buttercup

Creeping buttercup is often a severe problem in horse paddocks, where close grazing tends to open the sward.

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Thistles SugarBeet

Thistles in sugar beet

Yield loss and harvesting difficulties can be caused in sugar beet by infestations of sow-thistle and creeping thistle.

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Vol Potatoes

Volunteer potatoes

An integrated approach to the management and reduction of volunteer potatoes is particularly important where less competitive crops, such as sugar beet, are part of the rotation.

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