Heavy and late spring workloads and management of variable crop growth are the main concerns for our agronomists this month
Heavy and late spring workloads and management of variable crop growth are the main concerns for our agronomists this month. Dominic Kilburn writes.Suffolk
Robert Hurren, of Hurren Agronomy Ltd advises on land in central and eastern Suffolk, including combinable crops, sugar beet and vining peas. He describes the predominantly heavy land as “mostly decent”, with lighter areas closer to the coast.
Speaking in mid-April, Robert pointed out that wheats were only then beginning to grow following the prolonged cold weather, however he said that the bulk of September and October drilled crops were looking acceptable and “well worth looking after from here on in”.
Later drilled wheat after sugar beet, however, was in a less than ideal condition, he stated.
“Some of the oilseed rape appears to be just little stumps in the ground and some parts of fields have looked bare, but, recently, they have shown signs of green shoots, albeit much later than normal,” commented Robert, whose crop advisory business is part of the Apex Agronomy group of independent AICC agronomists advising on over 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) in East Anglia.He reckoned that recently-completed T0 fungicide sprays on the better wheats were two to three weeks behind a normal season and that later drilled crops would probably go straight into a “beefed-up” T1 spray at the end of April/early May.
“The important thing we learned last season with the widespread problem of septoria was that it was imperative to eradicate the disease early, which helped to keep it at bay for the rest of the season. On the better crops my T0s have included Bravo (chlorothalonil) + epoxiconazole, and will be followed by Aviator (bixafen + prothioconazole) at T1.”Late crops will get Tracker (boscalid + epoxiconazole) or epoxiconazole + Bravo at T1,” he added.
Robert said that Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) still had to be applied this spring, with none applied last autumn, and this was going to be a priority before the end of April, particularly for September-drilled wheat fields which were carrying a higher weed burden compared with later drilled crops.”Oilseed rape is all over the place in terms of development and pollen beetle, which is always an issue, will be particularly difficult this spring because of the growth variability out there.
“It will be a real challenge if numbers are high and we could well be into those sprays by the time this is being read at the start of May,” said Robert.
“Pyrethroids are no good to us now because of resistance and so Plenum (pymetrozine) or Rumo (indoxacarb) will be applied as and when we reach pollen beetle thresholds on crops, but before the crops flower.
“Not many rape crops will receive a PGR this season although Caramba (metconazole) is a likely candidate for the more forward crops in a better condition,” he added.One of the positive aspects of the late spring has meant that sugar beet drilling, although later than normal, was all accomplished within a five day period in early April, with some fields showing signs of emergence a fortnight later.
“We had ideal drilling conditions at the start of April and the entire crop has gone into good seedbeds at a similar time, and so it should make management easier,” explained Robert.With beet emerging, post-emergence sprays will be applied shortly based around Betanal MaxxPro (desmedipham + ethofumesate + lenacil + phenmedipham) and Goltix (metamitron), with increasing rates as the crop develops.
“We also have more spring wheats and spring barley in the ground than usual and we are keeping an eye open for slugs in those crops as they establish.”We’ll shortly be thinking about final nitrogen dressings for the oilseed rape although some of the late crops will have to wait a while yet. Wheat will receive its final dressing in early to mid-May,” Robert concludes.Hampshire
Nick Wall of Hampshire-based independent advisory business Crop Management Partners works out of Stockbridge and advises on combinable crops in the west and north of the county, as well as south to Dorset and north to Berkshire. He also advises on some land in Oxfordshire.According to Nick, who is an AICC agronomist, he operates across a good spread of soil types; anything from Oxfordshire clays to sands, while chalk downland makes up the greatest percentage.With so much variability in crop development, and a lot of backward crops to deal with, his advice to growers is to plan spray campaigns as best as possible. “There’s going to be a lot of clashes in the next few weeks with spray applications needed across different crops, so it makes sense to get the diary out and see if you can plan ahead,” he commented.Nick said his priority from mid-April was to clear up grass weeds in wheat. “We got the pre-ems on the earlier wheats last autumn, but no Atlantis, and there is black-grass and brome in those crops now.”Atlantis will be selected for black-grass treatments, Pacifica (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) where brome and black-grass is the issue and Broadway Star (florasulam + pyroxsulam) for brome and wild oats. Up until mid-April Nick said that soils had simply been too cold to start weed control campaigns.”With grass weed control I won’t be tank mixing herbicides in with fungicide applications if Bravo is included as some of the brome is quite big and we need to make sure that nothing detracts from the efficacy of the herbicides.”
With no rust or mildew showing, and low levels of septoria, Nick estimated that a T1 application would be the first fungicide of the season for most of the wheats, and likely to include Bravo and robust rates of Tracker.Talius (proquinazid) would also be included if mildew became an issue, he added.
Forward oilseed rape crops had a growth regulator at the start of April and they’ll get the first sclerotinia spray at the start of May, said Nick, as part of a two-spray strategy.Meanwhile, he’ll be keeping a close watch out for pollen beetles and recommends growers to check their crops for thresholds at least twice a week.”I won’t have to worry about the forward crops. They are growing quickly and evenly and typically will come into flower before the pollen beetles migrate, but backward crops are much slower to develop and they can be decimated by the pest.”
He’ll be applying Mavrik (tau-fluvalinate) where pollen beetle thresholds are met.
Immediate tasks for the start of May include wild oat control with a manganese mix and T1 fungicides are planned later in the month.Northumberland
AICC agronomist Jim Callighan, also speaking in mid-April, said that, at the time, winter wheat crops were very prostrate and nowhere near growth stage 30.Winter barley was also prostrate, he added, showing very little signs of growth.
“The north easterly wind has been very cold for weeks prior to this and we lost a lot of backward wheat and oilseed rape to frosts and the cold wind,” commented Jim, who advises on land in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. “Wheats that have survived are not too bad but they will only get their first fungicide spray towards the end of April – our latest T0 ever!
“There doesn’t appear to be much disease in them at the moment but, then again, there’s not a lot of crop there.”
With nothing in the way of fungicides applied, Jim said that herbicides such as Atlantis or Othello (DFF + mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) will go on as soon as conditions begin to warm up, with meadow grasses the main target. The hope is that these applications will tie in with the T0 tank mix, he suggested.Jim said that conditions in April had been good for drilling spring crops with spring barley and oat acreages 40-50 per cent up compared with last year on account of replacing failed winter crops.However, some spring wheat and oats which were drilled during the first week in March were only now (in mid-April) beginning to break through the soil surface, said Jim.”I’ve never known anything like it although it appears, at long last, that soil and air temperatures are indeed beginning to rise.”