Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Ergot  (Read 2595 times)

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2021, 04:37:17 pm »
Very nice consultant from SAC came out today. What I feared was ergot is ergot. We walked the field and it's widespread--- not great swathes of it, but everywhere we stopped to look we found a few scattered affected seed heads. So my first thought of walking round the field zapping it with a blow torch weed killer thing is out of the question.
He was pretty gloomy. There's no chemical control, and the only way to be 100% safe is to not use the grazing for livestock. I don't have that option, so he suggested topping it high, to leave as much leafy green stuff as possible, leaving it to dry, and the ergots will hopefully drop down to ground level and not be eaten. It's not great, but it's better than just leaving it, because while it's on standing stalks they will eat it accidentally while eating the greenery.
I suppose this will also have the benefit of scattering the ergots around, so even if some are eaten accidentally it won't be enough to do harm.
 He said baling and burning would be pointless because the ergots would probably all fall out in the process of baling.
The ergots will stay dormant in the soil so I will have to top repeatedly next summer so the grass just doesn't get a chance to flower. Without flowering heads there will be no ergot.
I'm not happy. I don't like solutions that aren't good solutions, but I don't seem to have any options.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Ergot
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2021, 09:39:51 pm »
Why @Zan is simple repeat-topping not a good solution ? 
Problem is the concurrent management of surrounding land - you need to talk to your neighbours. 

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2021, 10:17:09 pm »
Why @Zan is simple repeat-topping not a good solution ? 
Problem is the concurrent management of surrounding land - you need to talk to your neighbours.

Repeat topping is the solution for next year--- as long as I stop the grass from flowering the ergot bodies will have nothing to form on so there will be no ergot, but this year the ergot bodies are formed so they will still be lying there after topping. Gravity and rain should drive them down where they won't be eaten . I hope. I'm just feeling anxious about it because the consultant wouldn't commit himself to the field being 100% safe after topping this year. The ergot will still be there.
The neighbours are all commercial stock farmers with grazed fields and no seed heads. I think the infestation has possibly come from a strip of rough ground alongside a drainage ditch that runs along the bottom between my field and next door. It would be impossible to top or even strim because of fallen trees, undergrowth etc, so I think I'll just have to keep topping and never have standing grass again.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Ergot
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2021, 11:27:56 pm »
This is probably an undoable option, but would it be impossible to cut all the infected heads carefully by hand, barrow them off the grazing area and burn them all?  Maybe friends would help in return for a picnic  :D  Doing it by hand would not shake off the ergots as topping by machine would. At the very least it would be worth trying to cut them all by hand in areas off the pasture which will be the cause of re-infestation. You say it's in patches so although 5.5 acres is alot to face I think it could be done section by section.
I am not happy about the ergots lying on the ground.  From what I've read they develop on the ground then re-infest the grass grains in the summer, so they're not just dormant when they're on the ground but going through their reproduction sequence.  It could be OK if you can stay on top of repeat toppings to prevent seedheads forming, but we're due a wet summer next year so it might not be so easy.
It doesn't sound as if the SAC man could be as helpful as you had hoped  :(
« Last Edit: September 02, 2021, 11:29:33 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2021, 09:37:40 am »
That was my plan originally-- to go round collecting it all and burn it, but it's just not doable. It's not in clumps anywhere, but sort of sprinkled across the whole area. Although it didn't look like there was a lot from checking small areas of the field, when we systematically walked the whole field yesterday we discovered it was everywhere, but just odd ones here and there,if that makes sense.
I'm really not happy about it still being in the field at all. If the topper goes too high he might miss some, and if he goes too low there will be great clumps of rotting grass ( with ergot in it) lying on the surface stopping the new grass from growing, so I'm not even convinced his theory of the ergots dropping to the ground where they won' t be eaten works. So far I can't find any other options to try. There are fungicides they sometimes use on grain, which aren't hugely effective and needs to be done before the ergot bodies have actually formed anyway, so there's no chemical solution. Heavy duty chemicals might have just been swopping one poison for another anyway.
I'm really horrified at how my lovely weed free grass can be so horribly dangerous.

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2021, 02:30:37 pm »
Spoke to an agronomist this morning who agreed with topping now, but also said to leave to dry for a few days then harrow the field both ways, up and down and then across, which makes sense. That will hopefully drive the ergot bodies down to the earth.Then top to stop seed heads next year.
He said it's been a really bad year for it--- has had clients with it in grazing, and also one client who had to burn all her winter hay supply because of it.
My friend Mike, who does pasture management for a lot of horsey people, is here topping at the moment, and he's had two phone calls about ergot today.
So this is a warning folks-- beware of ergot in grass seed heads. Having standing grass for winter grazing has worked really well for me up till now, but I will never have standing grass again.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Ergot
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2021, 08:18:47 pm »
I have just had a wander around one of my fields (not topped, but well grazed with only a few heads of wild grassess standing) and found some ergot on them.... as well as on the uncut sides of my driveway etc, where it is not going to be a problem anyway... so I think it is widespread this year.


Won't be letting the goats out to graze anymore this autumn, as their field never gets topped until October..., need to check it tomorrow in better light.

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2021, 09:21:35 pm »
I have just had a wander around one of my fields (not topped, but well grazed with only a few heads of wild grassess standing) and found some ergot on them.... as well as on the uncut sides of my driveway etc, where it is not going to be a problem anyway... so I think it is widespread this year.


Won't be letting the goats out to graze anymore this autumn, as their field never gets topped until October..., need to check it tomorrow in better light.

Sorry to hear you have it too. It seems to be very widespread this year. I had thought my smaller field the horses are in all summer would be fine because it is grazed right down, but of course there are rank patches which the horses won't eat, but the sheep, who are now shut in there with them, would. When I checked these patches there were seed heads with ergot on them in every patch. It's like a nightmare--- I've been spending hours hand picking the seed heads off these patches. I can't even relax and think the animals are safe shut in there.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Ergot
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2021, 05:54:27 pm »
Oh so not good @Zan - gonna have to pick or cut for "as long as" unfortunately.  If you can stand the relentless picking, it's probably what I would do (rather than cut).

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2021, 10:22:40 pm »
@arobwk I don't think I have any choice but to pick it by hand in the field they are actually living in--- cutting it would be too risky. I've been round it five times now and still finding the odd bit. I am now picking any seed heads whether they have ergot or not, because I reckon some of them go on to develop it after I've passed by thinking they were fine.
 I still have the perimeter of the big field to go round  where the topper didn't reach. I am,literally, having nightmares about this stuff.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Ergot
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2021, 12:08:23 am »
@arobwk I don't think I have any choice but to pick it by hand in the field they are actually living in--- cutting it would be too risky. I've been round it five times now and still finding the odd bit. I am now picking any seed heads whether they have ergot or not, because I reckon some of them go on to develop it after I've passed by thinking they were fine.
 I still have the perimeter of the big field to go round  where the topper didn't reach. I am,literally, having nightmares about this stuff.

Hope your dreaming is rather more peaceful by now @Zan !?
« Last Edit: October 02, 2021, 01:57:35 am by arobwk »

Zan

  • Joined Jul 2021
Re: Ergot
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2021, 11:59:13 am »
@arobwk a lot better thanks--- I'm out of panic mode now  ;D. I've been lucky with the weather--- the grass often stops growing here at the beginning of September because of the cold, but the mild temperatures, combined with finally getting some rain, has meant a) there's been enough grass for everyone in the horses' small summer field and b) there's so much growth on the grass in the big field since it was topped that I'm pretty confident when they go back on it the ergot will be way down below where they will be grazing.
Two things of note for anyone who ever has this problem-- firstly, if you notice ergot early on don't assume what you see is all there is, because it does keep on developing on seed heads which were apparently clean at first sight, and secondly, beware of rye grass. The tall, bleached seed heads of other grasses are easy to spot, but rye grass seed heads are lower to the ground, and here they were behind the taller grasses in maturing, so the ergot developed later. If there's any danger left on my ground it will be on ryegrass, which was either too low at time of topping, or has actually grown and matured since topping. I've been as thorough as I can though and it will be minimal if there is any. There's so much clean grass for them to eat it hopefully will be okay.

 

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS