Poppy – Papaver rhoeas – is an annual weed common and problematic in both cereals and oilseed rape.
One plant can produce 20,000 seeds and the seeds can remain dormant for 100 years in the soil seed bank. Poppies have a similar competitive indices to blackgrass and mayweed and can also cause harvest difficulties including blocking of combine sieves. Since the loss of trifluarlin, control has relied heavily on pre/early post-emergence herbicides.
Poppies can grow successfully on many different soil types but favour lighter chalky soils. Poppy has an annual lifecycle germinating in both autumn and spring, though germination peaks around late September through to November and plants successfully overwinter. Poppies can be particularly problematic in oilseed rape due to the early sowing date and limitations in achieving a stale seedbed before drilling.
Young poppy plants can sometimes be confused with Shepherd’s purse, but the characteristic ‘mitten’ shaped first true leaves of the poppy differentiate the two. Later leaves are hairy, deeply lobed and the upper leaves are sessile (attached to the stem without a stalk). The distinctive red flowers of the poppy can usually be seen from June.
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