Trails have shown that preserving cereals by crimping kills 100% of the black-grass seeds ensiled with the crop.
The results of work by ADAS come as welcome news to both arable and grassland producers, who may be able to use crimping as a means of reducing the burden of black-grass on their units.
Researchers have speculated this burden could decline year on year, if crimping is carried out long term.
A further benefit of the crimping process, which involves processing and adding a preservative to the grain and ensiling it in a clamp or plastic tube, is its early harvest – typically three weeks ahead of dry cereal harvest.
The trials also demonstrated that at the time of an early harvest black-grass seeds were less viable, achieving an 18.6% germination rate compared with 42% germination with seeds from a fully mature plant.
The early harvest associated with the crimping process also increased the amount of black-grass seed removed from the field, compared with conventional harvest timing.
Feed preservation specialists Kelvin Cave, whose product Crimpsafe 300 was used in the trials, says the results confirm what it has heard, anecdotally, for many years.
“Producers are increasingly using early harvest and crimping as part of their black-grass control strategy,” says the company’s Michael Carpenter.
Neil Welburn, who farms 650 hectares near Goole in Yorkshire, has turned his entire cereal area over to crimping. “Early harvest and crimping are a key part of our black-grass control strategy. We set the combine sieves fully open for crimping and catch all of the weed seed, which you can see in the tank.
“Once everything has been through the crimper, had the preservative applied, and been clamped for a month or so, my feeling is that the seed isn’t viable at all.”