Latin: Sinapis arvensis

Other names: Wild mustard, field mustard

Family: Brassicaceae

Charlock Nufarm weed control

Charlock is a prevalent weed belongings to the mustard family (Brassicaceae). Also known as wild mustard or field mustard, this weed can be easily recognized by its bright yellow flowers and elongated, lance-shaped leaves. It does have value in biodiversity but is important to manage in arable crops where it can be highly competitive and rob yields by up to 5%.  

The stems of charlock are sturdy and upright, reaching heights of up to 1 meter. Native to Europe and Asia and has become naturalized in the UK, where it can become a serious problem in broad leaved crops and cereals.

Identifying Charlock

Charlock at cotyledons stage

Charlock at cotyledons stage

Charlock shares some similarities with other mustard family members, such as rapeseed (Brassica napus) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum). However, there are key characteristics that help distinguish charlock from its counterparts. Its flowers have four petals and are bright yellow in color, forming dense clusters at the top of the stem.

The leaves of charlock are oblong and deeply lobed, giving them a distinctive appearance. They are alternate and can vary in size, with lower leaves being larger and more deeply lobed than upper leaves. The stem and leaves are covered in stiff hairs, adding to the overall texture of the plant.


The Challenges of Charlock

Charlock is considered a troublesome weed in agricultural and horticultural settings. It competes with crops for resources leading to reduced yields and crop quality. Charlock’s fast growth rate and ability to produce abundant seeds make it particularly challenging to control. This can lead to it being extremely competitive when growing in early winter wheat.

Charlock in an unsprayed strip in winter wheat

Unsprayed (missed strip) in a winter wheat crop showing the effect of the herbicide

One of the difficulties in managing charlock is its ability to establish a persistent seed bank in the soil. The seeds can remain viable for many years, leading to ongoing infestations if not properly controlled. Additionally, it is important to manage best practices with control to prevent herbicide resistance in the weed.

Effective management strategies for charlock often involve a combination of chemical, mechanical, and cultural methods. Crop rotation and timely cultivation can help reduce seed bank replenishment in addition to herbicides (such as Paramount Max) specifically formulated for broadleaf weed control.

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