Talk of record yields from harvest and very good progress with autumn drilling and crop establishment has put our agronomists on the front foot this month
Talk of record yields from harvest and very good progress with autumn drilling and crop establishment has put our agronomists on the front foot this month. Dominic Kilburn writes.
Speaking in mid-October, Nottinghamshire-based agronomist Christina Scarborough estimated that 60 per cent of drilling had been completed in the region, with good seedbeds and growing conditions to date.
“Things are a little delayed in terms of drilling and while some of that could be because growers are holding off and maximising their black-grass control opportunities, I think it’s probably more about the delayed harvest, with crops such as beans and linseed, in particular, being late.”
With plenty of sunshine and soil moisture, she said that some of the more forward oilseed rape crops were already at the 6-true leaves stage and the majority of crops between 3-6-true leaves. “There have been no real flea beetle problems in the area with just a few farms needing one pyrethroid spray. Most crops have got away quickly which has helped,” she pointed out.
“Phoma was expected in crops early and we have moderate levels in some of the more sheltered fields, where there has been less of a breeze passing through, and where more humid conditions have seen the build up of disease,” she explained.
“I recommended Refinzar (penthiopyrad + picoxystrobin) for control of phoma on some crops and which also comes with the claim of root enhancement,” said Christina. “It will be interesting to see if there is a difference between those crops that have received it and those that haven’t, particularly if we get a dry period and better rooting enhances nutrient uptake.”
The late autumn weather will determine if oilseed rape crops continue to go through the growth stages rapidly and whether a metconazole-type growth regulator is used should more phoma protection be required, she added.
Currently there is relatively high pressure from slugs across all crops but a managed approach of control using ferric phosphate pellets is working well, said Christina.
Wheats have gone into nice seedbeds and established well with all those drilled to date having received a “proper” pre-emergence programme, which should stand growers well in terms of black-grass control.
“On the whole growers seem to have opted for the tried and tested, safer, varieties such as Grafton and JB Diego: good, leafy varieties well-suited for the clamps on the mixed farms.
“Revelation seems to be the pick of the newer varieties on offer being grown for the open market,” she added.
New grass leys have gone in this autumn and establishment has been exceptional – one of the best years Christina can remember. This has helped crops get away from pests such as wireworm and bodes well for growers to better utilise crops in the spring, she pointed out.
November 26th should be the date on everyone’s mind, she highlighted, who is currently operating a sprayer under Grandfather Rights, but has not gained the Certificate of Competence required to continue spraying after that date.
“My growers who have put in for the test this autumn have all passed having waited to get harvest out of the way to free up some stubble in order to take the practical side of it.
“The theory part was relatively straight forward with some guidebook revision and tuition from me,” she concluded.
Christina can be contacted via email: [email protected] or tel: 07969507082.
On the back of some of the best yields ever this harvest, Northumberland AICC agronomist Jim Callighan said that it had been a phenomenal season all round. “Everything has gone right including a dry autumn in 2014, a cool, bright spring with adequate moisture, relatively low disease pressure during the year and lots of bright sunshine which led to a very long grain fill,” he commented.
In addition, progress this autumn has been very good and by mid-October the last remnants of harvest were being completed and as much as 90 per cent of new season crops were in the ground, and all into good seedbeds – with none having to be “puddled in”.
“It’s given everyone a bit of a lift,” continued Jim. “There’s not much we can do about commodity prices but if we get the establishment and management of the crops right it gives us the best chance of achieving some good yields,” he said.
Prolonged sunshine has meant that early-drilled wheats have established very well.
Where required, wheat and barley crops received a pre-emergence spray for brome, based on flufenacet, and recent moisture has prompted good control, while, in the absence of brome, crops will have received an early post-emergence application of Lexus (flupyrsulfuron) or Absolute (diflufenican + flupyrsulfuron) + Picona (pendimethalin + picolinafen), aimed at annual meadow grass and broad-leaved weeds.
Although applied at post-em for wheat, Lexus mixtures will be used at pre-em for barley, added Jim.
Oilseed rape crops all established well off the back of subsoilers and are currently looking in good condition; the most forward crops at 7-true leaves but 3-5-true leaves being typical.
Because it has been relatively dry in recent weeks slug pressure remains low, as has been flea beetle pressure, and next on the agronomic agenda is the consideration, in November, of a light leaf spot and/ or phoma spray, likely to include growth regulator tebuconazole/metconazole on well advanced crops.
Jim can be contacted on email: [email protected]