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New Ontario solutions for wild oats control in spring wheat and barley

Principal Investigator: Francois Tardif

Research Institution: University of Guelph (U of G)

Timeline: April 2020 – March 2022  


  • Identify herbicides which will provide excellent control of wild oats with a high level of crop safety.
  • Contribute data to allow for registration of new wild oat products.


  • Proactive action on wild oats will reduce losses in yield and quality due to the presence of uncontrolled populations of that weed.
  • Create a list of BMPs that will allow producers to adjust their practices and minimise production risks caused by resistance.

Scientific Summary:

Wild oat is an important global weed that is especially troublesome in areas where spring cereals (wheat, barley, oats) are extensively grown. The similarity in form and growth habit between wild oats and small grains make it especially competitive and hard to control. Since the late 1970s, control of wild oats in wheat and barley has relied mostly on the development of effective selective post emergence herbicides belonging to groups 1 and 2. Unfortunately, the efficacy of these herbicides has resulted in the  development of herbicide resistant (HR) wild oats in many areas such as Australia and western Canada. In Ontario, herbicide resistant wild oats have not appeared to develop to the same extent, probably due to the lesser importance of spring cereals in our cropping systems; however, there have been multiple reports in the last few years of increasing incidence of HR wild oats in Ontario which make control very challenging.

As reports of resistance to group 1 increase in Ontario, there is a need to explore new herbicide options that are cost-effective under our conditions. Candidate herbicides would be products that are currently registered in Western Canada but not in the East because of our smaller market share. Other potential herbicides would be products that have some grass control efficacy in other crops (e.g. corn). The ultimate goal is to identify products that could provide enough control of wild oats while providing adequate crop safety. Field trials will be conducted at a minimum of three farm locations that have been previously identified as having a wild oats problem. Small plots will be planted with spring wheat and spring barley and sprayed with the selected herbicides at the required timings (PRE or POST). Data recorded will include wild oats control efficacy and biomass, crop injury, crop biomass and crop yield.

External Funding Partners: