Arable News

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Field Focus – November 2013

Our agronomists all report good progress with winter cropping establishment and weed control

Our agronomists all report good progress with winter cropping establishment and weed control in an autumn which, so far, can only be described in complete contrast to the same period last year. Dominic Kilburn writes.Notts, Leics and Warks
With many growers in his region forced to change tack last autumn and plant a spring crop where winter plantings failed to get established, AICC agronomist Nick Giddens (left) said that spring barley will remain in many growers’ rotations again for this season.”Several growers are now adopting a ‘heavy land spring barley approach’ following last season’s success with the crop,” pointed out Nick, who explained that one farm on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border drilled 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of spring barley last March to replace failed winter cropping.”If you talk to some of the older boys they will say that you can’t grow spring barley on heavy land but this farm in particular achieved reasonable yields of between 6-7.5t/ha (2.5-3t/acre).”
What is more, Nick said that the additional benefits of introducing spring barley into the rotation had proved invaluable. Drilled in March, this gave the grower ample time to produce stale seedbeds and apply two glyphosate sprays to reduce black-grass and, as well as providing an early entry for this autumn’s oilseed rape, it was also noted that slug numbers were lower on the barley stubble compared with wheat. “We’re not quite sure why the slug pressure was less. It could have been from the cultivations carried out in March prior to drilling the spring barley, or it could simply have been the barley straw,” commented Nick.”Growers are looking at the broader picture – they have seen that spring barley does work on the heavier land, they can get reasonable yields and gain additional agronomic benefits.
“I think we’ll see growers drilling 200ha (500 acre), blocks of spring barley again this season,” he added.Nick reckoned seedbeds this autumn had been the best that he had witnessed in the past 10 years; the good conditions affording growers the time to work land properly and take the opportunity to spray off black-grass chits with glyphosate.Approximately 50-60 per cent of wheat land he advises on was treated with Avadex (tri-allate) at pre-emergence this season, followed by Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin) + DFF about two weeks later. “We’ll wait and see how it has performed and hopefully the stacking has done the job, but Atlantis could be used further down the line if needs be,” he suggested.As with the wheat, oilseed rape crops were looking good in mid-October and an application of Falcon (propaquizafop) was being planned to remove flushes of volunteer spring barley, to be followed by Kerb (propyzamide) later in November.Avadex has recently been applied to winter barley crops at peri-emergence, to be followed up with 4 litres/ha of Crystal at the 2-3 leaves stage which, pointed out Nick, is a belt and braces approach. “It worked well on brome and broad-leaved weeds last autumn and in the spring we had little need to follow up with anything.”
Nick can be contacted on; 07793 258827 or [email protected] Suffolk
Crops are looking in good condition, said Suffolk-based Robert Hurren (left) who reckoned that wheat drilled in the third or fourth week of September benefitted from rain at the time and, as a consequence, got away well.Speaking in mid-October, Robert said that black-grass had emerged quickly in some fields and that Atlantis had already been applied and would continue to be if conditions are mild and favourable at the end of October. “We got a mixed result from stacking pre-ems in the early autumn as it had been relatively dry but generally they have done a decent job on my farms. Fortunately for us, resistant black-grass isn’t such an issue here as it is in other places, and Atlantis usually works well,” he said.
“We have sugar beet, vining peas and increasing acres of energy maize in the rotation which greatly helps us tackle the problem of grass weeds,” he adds.Some of the mid-August drilled oilseed rape has already had a PGR spray, reported Robert, while later drilled (but forward) crops may receive a treatment shortly. “If a PGR is required but there are very low levels of phoma then metconazole is my top choice, but I would add in either Proline (prothioconazole) or Plover (difenoconazole) to boost phoma control if necessary.
“We’re also keeping an eye on light leaf spot development which is becoming an increasing issue around here,” he highlighted.”Because the neonicotinoid seed treatments have well and truly run out of steam by now, we must continue to look out and treat for turnip yellows mosaic virus-spreading aphids myzus persicae. Flea beetle damage has been more noticeable in some fields this year and I am concerned that we will have to spray rape with insecticides more often next season due to these seed treatments being withdrawn,” he added.Once temperatures drop, Fox (bifenox) will be applied to some rape crops to control cranesbill and charlock, adding in oil in frosty weather to improve efficacy, while Kerb will follow when soil temperatures drop below 8C.”It’s also worth remembering that many of the deter-treated wheat and barley crops drilled around mid-September will be running out of BYDV protection at the end of October, putting crops at risk from infection. Keep an eye out for aphids in your crops and take a look at the aphid forecasting tool on the HGCA website,” he advised.”Beet yields and sugars have been satisfactory to date considering the dry weather,” Robert pointed out, with following wheat crops going in well up to now. And, with the 2014 beet price finally agreed, seed has been ordered with the low bolting variety Haydn, backed up with some Cayman, taking the lion’s share for planting in spring 2014.Bedfordshire
LW Vass Bedfordshire-based agronomist, Andy Scott (left) said that most of the planned winter wheat plantings had been completed by mid-October in what so far had been a kind autumn, particularly when considering the same period last year.Focusing initially on weed control in wheat; Andy explained that he’d tried to encourage growers when drilling wheat this season to go for a pre-emergence (of crop and black-grass) application followed by a very early post-em spray (with the crop not beyond the 1-2 leaf stage).”That system, using Avadex or a flufenacet-based product at pre-em, with a different flufenacet product again at early post-em, can deliver 90 per cent plus control of black-grass. That’s compared with 40-90 per cent control with Atlantis, depending on levels of resistance,” he explained.
“Of course, it’s a busy time of the season and unless farms have a dedicated sprayer operator it’s hard to get it done with all the other jobs that need completing. I try to encourage growers to use it in areas where black-grass is a big issue, rather than a whole farm policy,” he added. Andy pointed out that with the good establishment conditions and low dormancy in black-grass, this autumn really had played into the hands of growers in terms of stale seedbed opportunities using glyphosate. “That said, and despite all the messages, there are still some growers who didn’t carry out any stale seedbeds and are now drilling directly into germinating black-grass,” he stressed.Some of his crops will inevitably require Atlantis, he considered, but he is hopeful that, in the majority of cases where a pre-em followed by an early post-em application was made, it will have given good control of black-grass. “We have a BYDV spray coming up soon and so an assessment of the black-grass situation can be made then,” he added.With oilseed rape phoma sprays also on the horizon, Andy advised growers to hold off as long as possible while leaves remained relatively dry to prolong product efficacy into the winter months.
Opting for flusilazole, he reminded growers that sales of the fungicide have already ceased and final on-farm use is by the 12th October 2014.For black-grass and other weeds, oilseed rape on the heavier land will be receiving an application of AstroKerb (propyzamide + aminopyralid); this latest formulation of Kerb delivering control of a wider portfolio of broad-leaved weeds including poppy, mayweed and (off label) control of sow thistle and groundsel, he said.Andy can be contacted on: 01525 403041, or email: [email protected]

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