May 14, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

Wheat farmers in Kentucky annually struggle to control Italian Ryegrass in their fields.

“It is one of the most competitive weeds we deal with and it grows so rapidly,” said Jim Martin, University of Kentucky Extension weeds science specialist. "It reduces the tillering of wheat and that’s probably what hurts more than anything. It limits yield.”

To aid farmers in their quest to find the best solution to this domineering weed, Martin is conducting ongoing research on what chemicals give consistent control n Kentucky.

Timing is key, he said. If farmers find and control the weed in the fall, they will have less problems than if they wait and do application later in the season.

Martin reviewed some of this research recently at the UK Wheat Field Day at the UK Research and Education Center.

In the past four years, several products have been applied to determine control effectiveness, he said. There is concern that Italian ryegrass could become resistant to some of these products. To date, none has been found to be resistant in Kentucky, but there are some in Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas.

“It’s knocking on our back door,” he said.

The good news it that this is one area where company research is still being conducted to find new chemistry to control the weed, Martin said.

Martin’s research also looked at whether chemicals used to treat Italian Ryegrass are detrimentally affected when tank mixed with other chemicals that are used to treat other weed problems.

One of the most commonly used chemicals can be detrimentally affected by tank mixing but Martin said some of the newer ones appear to have fewer problems with mixing.

For more information on control of Italian Ryegrass contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office.