Arable News

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Field Focus – June 2014

As T2s went on, our agronomists were deciding what to prioritise when they visit the Cereals event in June

As T2s went on, our agronomists were deciding what to prioritise when they visit the Cereals event in June, as well as looking ahead to T3 applications. Dominic Kilburn writes.East Midlands Speaking in mid-May, Nottinghamshire-based FACTs-qualified independent agronomist Christina Scarborough (left) said that she attends the Cereals event every year particularly to take time to look at the wheat variety plots and help her farmer clients’ decision making ahead of this autumn’s plantings. The more ‘leafy’ varieties on show will be a focus for her this year with an eye to improve crop competition against black-grass at this time of the season, she noted.In terms of oilseed rape varieties she will be studying those with early maturity and good standing which are key priorities for her farmers and she suggested that new, high yielding KWS variety Charger may well fit the bill as well as Vision from Senova; the latter a consistent performer, she stated.”If farmers are growing oilseed rape on land where charlock is prevalent, Harper from Bayer CropScience could be a good choice as the variety is highly waxed and will suffer less from scorching if herbicide Fox (bifenox) is used to control the weed,” she said.”There is always the hope of finding out about new, much-needed, black-grass chemistry in the pipeline at Cereals and I am also eager to pick up BASIS points at the event, and I gather that there are 12 on offer this year if visitors follow the ‘Knowledge Trail’.”On the subject of black-grass, Christina highlighted a BASF black-grass trial open day being held at New Farm, Harby, north of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on the 6th of June, from 10.30am-4pm.
Both crop and weed growth has been fast this season, she continued, so much so that the first fungicide was applied to wheat before Christmas. “There was yellow rust in Santiago at that stage and, because it was so early, there weren’t many wheat fungicides available to get hold of so I had to look at oilseed rape fungicides that had wheat on their label, such as Juventus (metconazole).”It certainly held the rust and we have kept on top of it since, except, that is, in Oakley which completely succumbed to the disease and it is unlikely that we will grow the variety again,” she added.
Despite widespread reports to the contrary, and unsettled spring weather, septoria pressure in wheat hasn’t been too bad, pointed out Christina, with SDHI chemistry used at the flag leaf timing in the fungicide programme.”If wet weather continues through the latter part of May and into June we will be looking at a likely T3 ear spray of tebuconazole in mid-June on varieties such as Grafton, which only has a ‘5’ rating for fusarium, and those crops sown after maize.Turning to sugar beet, she said that seedbeds had been quite problematic on the heavy land because it had been very dry at drilling, but since then sufficient rain had meant that crops had got away nicely and were at the four true-leaf stage in mid-May.Badger was the main variety drilled this spring in the locality and she added that, weather-wise, this was the first season in several that it had been possible for a normal herbicide programme to be carried out at pre- and post-emergence.In conclusion, Christina took the opportunity to remind growers that, as part of the Sustainable Use Directive, they must carry out an Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP), developed by the NFU for the Voluntary Initiative (VI), which will replace Crop Protection Management Plans – vital for cross compliance and farm assurance schemes.It can be found at: *Christina can be contacted on email: [email protected]or tel: 07969 507082.YorkshireSimilarly, AICC Yorkshire Arable Advice agronomist Andrew Fisher said that varieties were top of his list if he can attend the Cereals event and, if so, he will be heading for the NIAB demonstration area for some independent advice to assess selection and seed rates for autumn sowing.”After Cereals I tend to write a newsletter in the second half of June outlining my thoughts on variety selection and seed rates and I know that farmers generally find the information useful as they tend to mention it to me when I next see them, discussing some of the points I have raised,” said Andrew.
Cereals will also provide him a good opportunity to discuss with manufacturers and the trade some of the agrochemical supply issues he, and others, have experienced with fungicides this season.T2 timings went on from mid-May onwards and Andrew pointed out that, despite shortages of key SDHI fungicide Aviator (bixafen + prothioconazole), there had been sufficient alternative materials available to take its place. Having seen it perform well in trials, straight SDHI product Vertisan (penthiopyrad), mostly in mixes with epoxiconazole, filled many of the T2 slots instead.
“We got as much Adexar (epoxiconazole + fluxapyroxad) as we needed but once you start to get above 1.25 litres/ha, it does start to get a bit pricey,” said Andrew.”That said, I was very happy with the performance of Adexar at T1 on barley this season,” he added.
There will be a T3 application on virtually all wheat this season, explained Andrew; septoria and fusarium disease pressure obvious on the dirtier, lower leaves and he is hoping that there will be sufficient Proline (prothioconazole) available for the programme. If not, then a robust tebuconazole or Swing Gold (dimoxystrobin + epoxiconazole) will suffice, he said.”In terms of oilseed rape; some had a two-spray programme at flowering, others just one, and crops are looking good. We didn’t use any Centurion Max (clethodim) earlier in the season and so we didn’t have any of the problems associated with the herbicide as has been reported.”Camelot, Incentive and semi-dwarf Troy are the main variety choice on farm this season and he doesn’t expect that to change too much for the coming autumn. “There are so many varieties on the Recommended List to choose from but I think that when farmers come across varieties that work well on their farm, they tend to stick with them for a while.”Andrew suggested that come the end of June, all eyes will be on expected Defra greening issue announcements which could result in a mad scramble to plant different crops this autumn if the three-crop rule is applied and the environmental focus area rules are confirmed in time.*Andrew can be contacted at: [email protected]or tel: 07836 711918.Northumberland T2 recommendations began in mid-May for Northumberland-based AICC agronomist Jim Callighan (left) and, while that might sound normal for most growers south of the Humber, it’s two weeks earlier than is typical for his region, he said. “It is earlier, but considering the mild winter and plenty of rain and sun since, it’s probably not so surprising,” commented Jim.”We have a lot of wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape in the ground this season, all set up by a good autumn last year, and so I am confident that there are, potentially, some good yields to come later,” he suggested.Jim plans to come all the way down to Cambridgeshire-based Cereals this year and spend two days at the event with colleagues and, like Christina and Andrew; varieties will be the key focus.
“In terms of wheats, of most interest will be the Group 3 and soft Group 4 varieties suited to the distilling and biscuit-making markets which are both important for this part of the country.
“Soft Group 4 Leeds is one variety I’ll be having a closer look at and perhaps Horatio too, also a soft Group 4,” he added.Jim pointed out that Group 3 Scout is a variety that has done very well in the north in both distilling and biscuit markets, however it was time to find another variety to grow alongside it and Group stable-mate Monterey appeared to be a good option.”I’ll also be looking at the newer generation of winter barley hybrids from Syngenta, as well as winter barley KWS Tower,” he suggested.For oilseed rape, Jim said that Incentive and Anastasia are his current favourites as both are good performing varieties for the north. “We also grow a lot of Cracker up here because of its club root resistance and I want to take the opportunity at Cereals to find out more about the Syngenta variety SY Alister as an option to grow alongside Cracker, so as not to put all the reliance on one club root resistant variety.”Similar to Andrew, pretty much all Jim’s wheats will receive a T3 to see the crops through until harvest. “Much of our wheat won’t get harvested until September and with the T2s going on even earlier than normal, in mid-May, it’s a long gap to bridge. A T3 for us acts as both an additional flag leaf treatment and an ear spray too.”It’s the second most responsive fungicide spray of the season after T2,” he added.

*Jim can be contacted on email: [email protected]

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