Mulching and other crop improvements

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Observations of our berry crops in particular showed poor growth and often heavy weed infestation at the end of last season. This was partly due to the very dry summer and the invasion of weeds and in particular twitch.

I decided that something had to be done. My first response was to hand spray with Basta herbicide. Basta is a glufosinate ammonium and is reported as not as systemic as glyphosate. I have been slow to get on top of just what this meant. Many of the perennials were killed but some broadleafs were not. ( eg buttercup and docks) .

Dormancy of the raspberry and other berry crops is important. Any green material will also be affected by these type of herbicides.

I am sure also that the  wet weather we have been having can pose a problem of herbicides coming in contact with root systems. (remember in many places we have sandy soil and hence no clays to immobilise penetrating herbicides)

I was getting my rows back in shape. It was difficult to tell whether the canes would be affected as they were dormant. But I think the final result was not good with a lot of cane dieback and the twitch quickly  reemerging. It showed up that weed infestations did drop. But digging around the roots showed that couch (twitch) rhizonomes were alive and active. I can’t use glyphosate as it would kill the plants.

I have used Fusilade Forte before but stopped for two reasons . One is it is very expensive perhaps 10 times the price of roundup. And it is very selective with no effect on broadleaf weeds. But I am told it will work on twitch as it is systemic enough to penetrate under the ground along the rhizonomes. This is still a work in progress and I am actually doing it backwards.

As the plants were not growing well I have added feed lot manure to all rows and then mulched with wheat straw which I manage to get. I hadn’t expected to be able to get it this year as farmers were not able to grow as much last year due to the dry season.

So all rows are mulched now but the twitch is reemerging but of course with some difficulty. When it is a little more established I will spray with fusilade. Apparently it doesn’t effect the other crops. The activity of the twitch has to be reduced as it is competing and straggling the  berry plants.


  • We were lucky to get large bales of wheat straw. But they were very hard to handle.

On top of all of this continual rains means that many fruilt trees won’t set fruit this year. Apricots are practically non-existent and peaches /nectarines have struggled with these same wet conditions. The front and back orchards have had flooded sections which has caused root rot problems. Some of the die back we have experienced in the blackcurrants and raspberries may also be partially attributed to these wet conditions. But weather in between showers is improving and we will see what happens as the ground warms up. New growth looks very good and if we can contrain twitch I am confident we will imporove things.

It is these learning experience which I think keeps my enthusiasm going. Only wish I had a second life once I had gained the necessary knowledge.


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