The Irish Farmers Journal has stepped up its campaign in raising awareness of the highly invasive blackgrass weed by delivering identification posters all over Ireland.

Blackgrass can destroy tillage crops and infest land, making it redundant for tillage production. While the weed is spreading rapidly across the country it is still relatively unknown and some farmers may have this grass in their field but cannot identify it.

As a result, the Irish Farmers Journal has delivered posters – displaying pictures of blackgrass and some useful tips on how to identify the invasive species – to agricultural merchants, co-ops and advisory offices across the country.

These posters will help farmers to identify the weed and make it easier to recognise as they will see it regularly when they visit their local agricultural retailer.

If you think you have blackgrass, ask for advice on its containment and control. Do not let it go uncontrolled as one plant can produce 6,000 seeds allowing it to spiral out of control very quickly. There is no chemical control for blackgrass apart from glyphosate which will destroy other crops in the field.

Know how to spot blackgrass

Young blackgrass:

• Seedlings and young plants have a purple base.

• As plants develop they will tiller aggressively.

• Blunt and finely serrated ligule, 2-3mm in length.

• Leaves are slender, smooth and bluish-green with a well-defined twist.

Mature blackgrass:

• Seed head is long, thin and cylindrical and resembles a rat’s tail.

• Seed heads range in colour from yellow to purplish.

• The plant is tall, 80cm to 90cm in height.

• Round slender stems, sometimes reddish in colour.

Why is this important?

• A highly invasive grassweed.

• One plant can produce up to 6,000 seeds.

• Rapidly spreading throughout Ireland.

• It has known resistance to herbicides.

Control before it goes to seed

• Rogue plants where populations are low

(late May and again throughout June).

• Cut or ensile a heavily infested crop before it goes to seed

(late May or early June).

• Destroy fi eld or infested area with glyphosate (late May or early June).

• Create stale seedbeds in autumn and winter.

• Move to a spring crop rotation.

• Adopt a zero-tolerence approach to blackgrass.