Arable News

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Field Focus – April 2015

Our three agronomists are facing mixed disease pressure out in the field

Our three agronomists are facing mixed disease pressure out in the field but crops, in general, are looking good at this stage of the season. Dominic Kilburn writes
Following what was a mild autumn and, to date, what seems a relatively kind spring, crop potential looks very good at this stage of the season, said our Northumberland-based AICC agronomist Jim Callighan, speaking on the 19th March.
Crops are generally a little slower than this time last year, principally because of some good night time frosts in recent weeks, and a recent spell of cool easterlies has held back wheat and barley.
Oilseed rape, however, has very much “kicked off”, he pointed out.
According to Jim, disease pressure in wheat and barley is as high as at the same time last year in terms of septoria but there is little sign of rust in crops, probably because of the frosts. “Septoria is much worse on the later-sown wheats which appear to have had more leaf loss as a result,” he commented.
T0 applications in both wheat and barley will get underway during the last week in March; wheat fungicides based on a cyproconazole + Bravo (chlorothalonil), or tebuconazole + chlorothalonil to clean up any septoria and allow for some “breathing space” through to T1 applications.
SDHIs will come into play at T1 but chlorothalonil will still play an important part in the programme, he added.
In barley; mildew and rhynchosporium will be the main target at T0 based on cyprodinil (as in Kayak) or Opus Team (epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph). An SDHI will be applied on the 6-row and hybrid varieties at T1.
OSR light leaf spot sprays will also be going on during the final days of March including prothioconazole and tebuconazole (the latter for growth regulation), as well as new fungicide Refinzar (penthiopyrad + picoxystrobin) to see how it performs against standard triazoles.
Pollen beetle wasn’t an issue last year because of the cool spring, noted Jim, but if temperatures increase sharply he’ll be keeping an eye out on forecasts and thresholds. “We have had resistance to pyrethroids confirmed in the north and so we need to look for alternative control methods where possible,” he said.
*Jim can be contacted on email: [email protected]

Further south, AICC and Indigro agronomist Damian McAuley is based in Northamptonshire but also advises growers on land in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.
Although disease levels in crops are much lower compared with last year, he said that the increasing sign of yellow rust in susceptible varieties like Santiago is of concern, particularly as he has a large area of that variety. “It’s not just Santiago where we are seeing it though, other susceptible varieties like Solstice and Kielder are being affected too. That said, Santiago is a stalwart variety for growers here and they remain very keen on it,” said Damian, speaking on the 19th March.
Robust T0 sprays on wheat will mostly have been completed by the start of April and an SDHI/triazole combination + Bravo will be lined up for T1. “I’ve been using this kind of ‘front-loaded’ fungicide programme for the past two years. With less curative control possible now, we have to keep septoria out from the start if we are to keep crops clean and this kind of preventative strategy will more than pay for itself,” he commented.
Spring crop drilling is going well; spring cereals and legumes, as well as sugar beet, are generally going into good seedbeds. “We’ve had more frost mould than last year, however on heavy land we are finding some wet and sticky conditions deeper down in places. Growers are using min-till, and direct drill shallow cultivations to good effect by not bringing the wet, cloddy soil up to the top, with the additional benefits of reduced black-grass seed disturbance and moisture retention near the surface.”
Sugar beet seedbeds are being rolled down well and favouring good pre-em herbicide applications, he added.
*Damian can be contacted on email: [email protected]

East Midlands
Nottinghamshire-based agronomist Christina Scarborough, agreed that winter wheat was currently looking much cleaner than during the same period last year.
T0s will be going on in early April for septoria protection, whereas last season the first fungicides were applied in January to control high levels of both septoria and yellow rust.
“We’re back to more of a traditional timing this season to start the fungicide programme and it’s likely to be based on Alto Elite (cyproconazole + chlorothalonil), in other words a triazole + CTL, and the SDHIs will be saved for later in the programme.”
T1 applications, likely to be timed for mid- to late-April, will be a triazole and strobilurin mix such as Kestrel (prothioconazole + tebuconazole) + Jenton (fenpropimorph + pyraclostrobin), Christina highlighted.
Winter barley, however, is full of over-wintered mildew, she pointed out, and will have received a treatment of Talius (proquinazid) by the time this issue of Farmers Guide has landed on the doormat, in addition to some manganese to boost crops.
With conditions currently dry, spring beans and spring wheat are being drilled into good seedbeds presenting an excellent opportunity to apply pre-em herbicides.
Following phoma programmes which worked well last autumn, oilseed rape crops are looking clean, she noted, and, with buds starting to show, this is the last chance to tackle thistles and cleavers with Galera (clopyralid + picloram).
“Then we’ll be on the look out for pollen beetle,” she said, adding that pyrethroids worked well for their control last year.
Christina reminded growers that current ELS and HLS agreements need the payment re-applying for by the 15th May. A letter and forms are being sent out in a Natural England-marked envelope, so don’t put it to one side, she warned.
Also, hitting the headlines recently, is the abandoning of the online Basic Payment Scheme for this year – paper forms will now be available. In addition, the deadline for submission has been extended to the 15th June!
*Christina can be contacted at: [email protected] or tel: 07969 507 082.

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