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Spraying Sainfoin: What Works Best?

MCPA+ MCPB ( NO LONGER ON LABEL APPROVAL) can be applied at first trifoliate leaf stage in the spring to help control broadleaved weeds.  This may need to be done twice if there is a bad weed infestation. In many cases this spring application is essential when the crop is being established.

After this management will depend on whether a pure stand of sainfoin is being grown, or a mixture with grasses.

Pure Stand
A pure stand can be sprayed with carbetamix around December to eliminate grass weeds and chickweed.  This will increase the longevity of the crop. 

Mixture With Grasses
For a mixture with grasses this spray is obviously unsuitable.  The grasses will compete with the weeds in any case.  In trials at Cirencester and also at NIAB we found that a late strain of meadow fescue was the best performing grass mixture at about 66% sainfoin and 33% meadow fescue in the sward.

Ryegrass can also be used as a companion, but this should be a tetraploid variety and late heading so as to be less competitive with the sainfoin (see Zhigang Liu, RAC 2006: 'Developing a Modern Agonomy for Sainfoin').

For organic farmers, we recommend always sowing with companion grasses.

Date Posted: 30th March 2017


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