Scottish Arable Farmers Warned to be Vigilant Against Black-Grass

Good biosecurity and sourcing safe seed required as weed infestation could be devastating

As many Scottish growers gear up for harvest, and make plans for planting this autumn, NFU Scotland and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds are warning them to be on the look-out for signs of black-grass.

Black-grass is a weed, often resistant to normal herbicides, and once established can be one of the biggest challenges for an arable farmer to control. 

NFUS and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds are urging Scottish arable farmers to be on their guard against the weed, which can spread quickly.

Although problems in Scotland with black-grass are nowhere near the magnitude found south of the Border, there are populations of black-grass weeds present naturally in Scotland.

Warmer winters and more autumn cropping, combined with reduced tillage, is likely to encourage these populations to spread. Some may carry a degree of herbicide resistance if they have been regularly treated with black-grass active herbicides.

Farmers are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • Watch out for new or spreading black-grass populations. Remove small populations by hand rouging or spraying off.
  • Make sure machinery coming onto the farm has been properly cleaned, especially if it has come from England.
  • Source straw and seed from reputable sources.
  • If herbicide resistance is suspected, get seed tested so correct management decisions can be made.

Ian Sands, NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee Chairman, who grows crops in Perthshire commented: “Thankfully the prevalence of black-grass in Scotland is a lot lower than that faced by our counterparts in England and Wales. Catching the weed early can ensure its spread to other cropping areas, or indeed onto neighbouring land, is prevented.

“We ask members to be vigilant and to also report any sightings of the weed to the relevant bodies. By asking merchants to supply seed specifically from Scotland, the risk of black-grass being discovered within the batch can be kept to a minimum.”

Gavin Dick, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Scotland Manager, said: “Black-grass is a weed that farmers need to worry about, even if you haven’t yet got it on your farm, so good biosecurity measures should be in place just as with animal diseases. The impact of getting an infestation on your farm could be devastating.

“We need to be extremely vigilant if these small, isolated populations of black-grass are to remain just that, rather than risk them spreading across the country as the weed has in England.”

Note to Editors

  • To access the full ‘Is black-grass a threat to Scotland?’ publication, videos and further black-grass management resources, visit AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds’ dedicated web page:


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 187/16

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