Arable News

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Field Focus – December 2014

Autumn drilling is all but complete as our two agronomists plan the final inputs for their growers’ crops

Autumn drilling is all but complete as our two agronomists plan the final inputs for their growers’ crops before winter closes in. Dominic Kilburn writes.Nottinghamshire
Most people have got their planned area of winter wheat in the ground now, said Nottinghamshire-based AICC and Arable Alliance agronomist Andrew Wells (left), speaking during the first week in November.”Some growers delayed drilling for more opportunity to control black-grass but by the time this magazine arrives on the doormat most will be in,” he commented.According to Andrew, seedbeds haven’t been as good for the later drilled wheat crops as those drilled earlier in the autumn – growers have been unable to Cambridge roll in recent weeks as soils have been sticky.”That said, there’s plenty of moisture to help the pre-em applications,” he added.Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) recommendations are currently going out on farm for the earlier wheat crops, with applications being made as conditions allow.”The advice is to mix appropriate partners with Atlantis as to what growers find in front of them,” stressed Andrew, who pointed out that some fields, despite the best efforts so far, still contained a carpet of black-grass and will require a robust approach for adequate control.Aphids have continued to be very active recently, he said, and so most cereal crops will need another insecticide during November unless they were sprayed with an insecticide in late October, or where crops were drilled from late September onwards using Redigo Deter (clothianidin + prothioconazole) as a seed treatment.”Slug activity has also increased significantly in recent weeks particularly after oilseed rape crops, and growers have used ferric phosphate-based pellets in places where the metaldehyde allowance has been used up.”Some growers are mixing ferric phosphate and metaldehyde pellets in the same application to help stretch their metaldehyde use further,” he pointed out.Andrew said he was making plans for applications of propyzamide in oilseed rape, for black-grass control, and while (in early November) soil temperatures were not sufficiently low enough for maximum efficacy, they would be colder by the time most sprays were applied.”Although I’m not overly concerned with phoma levels in the crop at the moment, a fungicide will be going in the same tank as the propyzamide to ensure that this is the final pass through the crop this year,” he commented.Winter bean planting was completed by the end of October and there will be a similar area to last season, however Andrew reckoned the area of spring beans will increase slightly as growers look to conform with the three-crop rule and have another opportunity to tackle black-grass.He added that wheat variety Belepi, which has a wide sowing window from October through until April, is being drilled on several farms both in the late autumn, and planned for next spring for comparison. The variety, bred by John Blackman Agriculture, also has good black-grass suppressing traits.Most of December will be time spent getting growers organised with their greening measures, said Andrew, reminding readers that using hedges as part of their Ecological Focus Area was now a realistic option as Defra had announced that the use of hedges would not delay the 2015 Basic Payment.NorthamptonshireAICC and Indigro agronomist Damian McAuley (left) is based in Northamptonshire but also advises growers on land in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.Wheats have emerged strongly and pre-emergence herbicides are doing a good job, he said, and there is good evidence to suggest that emerging black-grass has picked up the herbicides.Like Andrew Wells in Nottinghamshire, Damian has some growers who have opted to delay drilling by growing spring wheat, but he added that if black-grass is the main driver for that crop choice then they should ensure that it is drilled in the spring, to get the maximum benefit from cultural control.”I am pleased however that people are delaying where they have a black-grass problem,” he commented.Likewise, he is starting to look at Atlantis recommendations on wheat but he warns growers that they need to get applications on as early as possible. “Research suggests that there is a 30 per cent drop off in control of black-grass from Atlantis once it starts to tiller.”A residual top-up will also be included, he added.Oilseed rape fungicides have been delayed due to the weather and, although phoma levels are relatively low, applications now being planned are likely to include a product for light leaf spot too; an assertion that poor weather in the late autumn could prevent a second fungicide spray being applied.Damian noted that there had been some mixed results from both residual and contact herbicides in the crop this season – some control had been excellent, and some not so good – but it was difficult to explain the variability.”We will need some good soil activity from a Kerb (propyzamide)-type residual product in most cases and AstroKerb (aminopyralid + propyzamide) where broad-leaved weeds such as poppies and thistles are targeted,” he said, adding that the recently announced label change permitting straw from oilseed rape crops treated with AstroKerb to be removed from the field and burned for heat or electricity production, gave growers greater flexibility.Winter barley is emerging well, concluded Damian – pre-ems have performed well and, although the crop has a natural competitiveness, where there is black-grass remaining there will be an additional application of flufenacet just to help the barley get away from it.A BYDV insecticide spray will also be recommended for barley if aphid thresholds are met, he said.
*Damian can be contacted on email: [email protected]


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