Arable News

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Field Focus – November 2014

Autumn drilling and treatments have progressed very well say our agronomists

Autumn drilling and treatments have progressed very well, say our agronomists in Suffolk and Northumberland, but things aren’t quite so far advanced in the middle! Dominic Kilburn writes.SuffolkSuffolk-based AICC and Apex agronomist Robert Hurren says that it has been a relatively easy autumn to date and, speaking in mid-October, 80-90 per cent of land was drilled up. Some fields remained undrilled intentionally to allow for further flushes of black-grass and others due to being after later-lifted sugar beet.”The dry September enabled my clients to get on with drilling at a leisurely pace but it was a struggle on some fields to produce a good seedbed. Fortunately we had a few rogue showers during the dry period which helped but the recent, more persistent rain has enabled most to finish drilling in good conditions,” said Robert.Pre-ems have been applied and the wet weather will hopefully have helped them do a decent job on the black-grass, although Robert emphasises that infestations in his part of Suffolk aren’t on the scale found on farms further to the west.”Black-grass is becoming a bigger issue and we are using more Avadex (tri-allate) than before, but because most of my growers have grown at least one spring crop – sugar beet, vining peas or spring beans – for many years our levels have remained fairly low generally.”We’ve seen at first hand the problems encountered further west and are doing all we can to try to be proactive in dealing with it before it becomes too much of a problem here.”Robert said that over the forthcoming weeks he’ll be checking on black-grass levels in wheat and deciding on whether another residual application is required, or whether an autumn treatment of Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) is required once the crop gets to 2-leaves.”Field knowledge and history is so important at this time of year as there’s no point in waiting to apply Atlantis to fields in the spring if in the past this hasn’t been an effective treatment. We all know our worst black-grass areas and these need to be targeted,” he added.Most oilseed rape crops look excellent, continued Robert, with only a few problem areas suffering from flea beetle and slugs. Most crops were at the 5-6 true leaves stage by the middle of the month and had received earlier applications of Plenum (pymetrozine) for the control of virus-transmitting aphids as well as Centurion Max (clethodim) to hit grass weeds. Some of the worst infested fields were about to receive an application of Crawler (carbetamide) as part of a programmed approach against black-grass.”We were slightly more cautious in the early days of the crop because of the lack of neonicotinoids but good levels of moisture during the second half of August ensured that most oilseed rape crops got away well this season,” he pointed out.”There’s been nothing as yet in terms of phoma but with the recent rains we’ll be watching out in the days ahead, probably opting for a two-stage approach starting with Plover (difenconazole), followed by prothioconazole for light leaf spot later in the year.”Kerb will be applied to OSR in November when soil temperatures have dropped sufficiently,” he added.Finally, good yields are being seen from the earlier lifted sugar beet crops with some of those scheduled for later lifting receiving a further fungicide treatment for rust where necessary.East MidlandsAutumn drilling progress in mid-October was only about 45-50 per cent complete, said independent agronomist Christina Scarborough. The region had missed most of the late summer rainfall and a very dry September put paid to plans for ploughing in many cases.”Despite it being exceptionally dry during that period, establishment of wheat and oilseed rape has been surprisingly good although new grass leys have struggled,” she pointed out.Christina doesn’t expect those pre-ems that were applied to wheat during the prolonged dry spell to deliver very good control of black-grass, although some growers delayed a little longer after drilling and went for a peri-emergence application.In terms of post-em treatments for black-grass and broad-leaved weeds, she said Unite (flupyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) was tried for the first time last year at the 2-leaf stage of wheat, to good effect where a pre-em was applied ahead of it, and it is likely to play an important role again this autumn.The post-emergence herbicide spray is also an opportunity to add in a BYDV spray at the same time, she reminded.Despite the dry start to the autumn it is slug activity, rather than flea beetle, which has caused the greatest concern for establishing OSR crops this season, said Christina, who puts the blame on the damp weather during summer 2013 being responsible for maintaining egg viability that year, and the large number of slugs now being found in crops.”On the basis that we had a relatively dry summer this year, I am hoping that numbers will be less next year,” she adds.She noted that there had been very high levels of phoma in young oilseed rape crops this autumn and above the 10 per cent infection threshold for spraying. An early, half-dose, treatment of Plover, which doesn’t have the PGR effect, seems to have controlled the disease well and plants have since greened up.For anyone yet to drill new grass leys after old, high levels of leatherjackets are being found and these will need treatment prior to planting, she said. “Have a dig about and if you can easily find them remember to treat land ahead of any remaining grass leys now, or ahead of those scheduled to be planted in the spring.”As a final reminder, Christina pointed out that this is the last year that growers will have to fill in their Soil Protection Review. “The booklet they’ve been filling in has finished but everyone should have been sent a continuation sheet by the RPA. That needs filling in by the end of December and can be downloaded online,” she concluded.Christina can be contacted at: [email protected]or tel: 07969 507 082.NorthumberlandWith virtually a rain-free September, as much as 95 per cent of winter crop drilling had been completed by the middle of October, said Northumberland based AICC agronomist Jim Callighan. It’s the first time in many years that growers have caught up with all spraying and drilling operations in the autumn, he added, pointing out that by the time this issue of Farmers Guide hits the doormat, all remaining crops (mostly winter beans and grass leys) should be drilled up.Like those further south, pre-emergence applications went on cereals in very dry conditions and it remains to be seen how effective they were. “Our big issue up here is brome, rather than black-grass, and we applied a flufenacet-based pre-em in barley and some of the wheat where land is prone to brome. Time will tell if they have performed well.”Oilseed rape is a little patchy in places on account of the dry start to the autumn and in some cases he recorded three or four different germinations in a single field.Like Christina in the East Midlands, slugs have been a bigger problem than flea beetle, although the latter has not been a big issue in the region. “We’ve had some damp and foggy evenings up here on the east coast and maybe that has stimulated the slugs into activity,” he suggested.Jim is on the lookout for phoma and light leaf spot in the rape and first treatments typically go on before the end of October. “I am concerned that we use prothioconazole in oilseed rape both for autumn and spring protection from disease, and we have to be careful when it comes to potential resistance problems that we are seeing with triazoles, albeit in cereal disease control programmes at the moment.”So to spread product use further this year, I’ll take a look at DuPont’s new fungicide Refinzar (penthiopyrad + picoxystrobin), as well as MAUK’s Cirkon (prochloraz + propiconazole) to ensure there isn’t an over reliance on prothioconazole,” commented Jim.Jim can be contacted on email: [email protected]


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