The NFU has helped to secure the future use of a number of key plant protection products for commercial poppy growing in the UK.
The NFU has been working with the UK Poppy Growers Association, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and the British Association of Seed Producers to secure extensions of authorisation for minor use (EAMUs) for a number of herbicides and insecticides used on poppies grown for seeds for culinary use.
As a result of this work, poppy growers will have access to EAMUs for Falcon (propaquizafop), Callisto (mesotrione), Hallmark (lambda-cyhalothrin), Centurion Max (clethodim), Filan (boscalid), Starane Hi-Load (fluroxypyr) and Signum (boscalid+pyractlostrobin).
Emma Hamer, NFU senior plant health adviser, said: “Poppies have been commercially grown, with great success, in the UK since 2002. The primary poppy growing regions are those with free-draining soil.
“There are many good reasons to grow poppies. They provide an excellent break crop in arable rotations; they provide an excellent entry for first wheats, resulting in increased yields; and they can achieve good gross margins when compared to other primary spring break crops like linseed.”
The seed is provided to growers and drilled using a conventional drill at the end of March/beginning of April. Harvest is carried out using a combine harvester, typically in August. Agronomic assistance is provided by an experienced poppy agronomist through an agronomy package with Agrii.
George Hosford has been successfully growing poppies on his farm for a decade.
He said: “Poppies have been an important part of our rotation here for 10 years now, and I hope to be able to continue growing them in the future. We started growing poppies in 2007, having tried a number of other alternative crops that proved less successful, and have continued growing them ever since.”
“Poppies proved to fit in well with an arable rotation. The seed is provided by the buyer and is best sown in the latter part of March, straight after spring barley. The poppies are usually harvested in mid-August, giving plenty of time for a couple of rounds of stale seedbed before following wheat needs to be sown.
“Poppy straw can be chopped and does not encourage slugs in the way rape does, and the soil is usually left in a good friable condition.”