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Running down Feathertop Rhodes

It’s a rapidly growing problem. Literally. Meet Feathertop Rhodes grass (Chloris virgata): an exotic tufted annual grass with a feathery appearance that grows up to 1m tall — and fast. It’s both resistant to herbicides, and a rapid seed producer. It’s tough to run down, but not impossible.

The weed first gained a foothold in the north, thanks to the shift to low tillage production systems, and has now spread across the south and west, moving rapidly along roadsides where its seeds blow over boundary fences. It looks like we’re stuck with it, but we don’t have to let it dominate…

A short-lived victory

Every species has a weakness or two. And with Feathertop Rhodes, its small and short-lived seeds do it no favours. The key is preventing seed set. The weed flowers within three to four weeks of germinating and will keep producing seeds as long as there’s moisture in the soil.

But the good  news is, most of the seeds germinate after the first rain, and observations by growers and agronomists show the seed bed has a lifespan of 18 months — so with a dedicated attack on the seed bed, you can run it down within a couple of years of well-timed tilling.

Root out the problem

A second weakness for Feathertop Rhodes, is its roots system. While the weed can look quite bulky above ground, there’s actually very little support below the surface — so a strategy of speedy and shallow cultivation can work wonders when applied in the dryer seasons.

The SPEEDTILLER® by K-Line Ag is a high-performing, heavy duty adjustable speed disc for maximising weed control. It’s also good for soil conditioning with superior water penetration and it can incorporate high levels of crop residue, increasing your soil’s carbon content.

With machine sizes up to 15.5m, Speedtiller®’s advanced design puts it in a class of its own. And puts weeds like Feathertop Rhodes in their place.

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