Weed control options & update
The dry continues. We're still green but there is not enough growth now for pregnant ewes (due to lamb in 4-weeks time) so we are supplementing with low lignan oats every 2-3 days. The sheep are going well. I can't help but whince though when there are still a minimum of 4-weeks to go to lambing. Some girls are so rotund they can hardly walk. We don't scan for twins and triplets but many of the ewes sure look like they have a soccer team inside them.
We had a first time incident this week selling some cull ewes as mutton (ones that are a little too woolly for us). Had to cancel the booking because the majority were too big (>80kg). Sigh. An agent is looking for a new home for them. They've spent the past week adjacent to rams, so they'll be ready to cycle with some boys on someone elses farm.
I showed in a previous blog about the developing problem we have with sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) and silvergrass (Vulpia sp). We don't have a boom spray yet, but we need to find a suitable one this year so that we can control these grasses. There are a few options. Unfortunately sheep don't eat them in spring, but that opens up one option.
It's been nearly impossible to use the services of a spray contractor. We are too small, and we need to spray a paddock or two, and then days or a week later, another paddock or two. No contractor will come here to do that.
The first option I will use, is about 6-10 weeks after the clovers and ryegrasses have germinated, I will use ~300ml/ha of 100g/L propaquizafop (Correct/Shogun) with ~400-500g of 900g/kg simazine. Our ryegrass is FOP resistant, but propaquizafop is soft on ryegrass and kikuyu anyway. It will kill bromegrass, barley grass and it should control sweet vernal grass. The simazine is to suppress the silvergrass.
The backup option is that in late spring after a paddock has been grazed heavily, we can spray it immediately with ~400ml/ha of 250g/L paraquat. This is a good timing because the ryegrass and kikuyu have been grazed down (not much leaf area left for the paraquat to hit), but the sheep have left the sweet vernal and silvergrass, and also any bromegrass and barley grass that are out in head. These are easy to hit with the paraquat. The ryegrass and kikuyu will continue to grow within days of being sprayed with the paraquat.
I would love to use really heavy grazing to reduce these unwanted grasses, but it does not work well enough in spring time because the sheep stay selective in what they are eating. They tread on more of the unwelcome grasses rather than eating them. Without stopping the seed set of these unwanted grasses, they proliferate. Hopefully that problem ends this year onwards.