Dont rush to spray for annual meadow-grass (AMG) in your winter wheat this spring; with present conditions you will be creating problems for the future with the damage you will do on the land, says Scott Milne of Bayer CropScience, who is based in Scotland.
In the past there was always concern that if AMG was not treated soon enough it would start to tiller and become too vigorous for residual herbicides, particularly as very few growers were able to spray residuals in the autumn.
Othello (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron + diflufenican) will form an important part of growers armoury against weeds in winter wheat this spring, particularly in Scotland, explains Mr Milne. One of the great advantages of this product is that you can wait until conditions improve and go in later. So far, the weather over the winter months has resulted in slow growth for both crops and weeds, and growers should hold fire until there is a sustained period of growth.
Not only did a lot of crops not get sprayed in Scotland last year, it looks as though the ground is going to be too wet for a while yet. This means that by the time many growers are able to spray AMG will be too well established for Liberator (flufenacet and diflufenican).
In the past we would have had to risk going in on land that is still very wet to spray, but, fortunately Othello offers us the possibility of waiting until conditions improve because it will control larger AMG.
Chris Boyce of Bayer CropScience agrees. Last autumn, many growers had to focus on drilling wheat rather than spraying, with the result that planted and sprayed areas are much lower than in normal years, he says.
There are quite a lot of differences between the regions with Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire being worse than East Anglia. Many growers are still waiting for the ground to dry out so they can get on with spraying. Once the ground warms up, wheat and AMG – will start growing. Because they will have to finish their drilling first, the AMG in autumn planted crops will have got rather a head start, so the ability of Othello to act on more numerous and large populations will be fundamental to getting a good yield this year. I advise spraying 1litre of Othello together with 1 litre of biopower for maximum effect.
Agronomist Sam Lawrence of the AICC is also seeing a wide variation in conditions; many of the fields in the Vale of York are still flooded while the free-draining Yorkshire Wolds are doing much better.
Overall in the Yorkshire area only about 60 per cent of winter wheat was drilled last year, and of that, 20 per cent is not doing well, he comments. There are a number of farms that didnt get anything planted at all last year, yet others managed to get everything in. There are a number of growers with heavy ground who have taken the decision to leave land fallow until the autumn, rather than risk a crop developing late and affecting next years winter wheat.
I dont expect any spraying or drilling to take place before the beginning of March; the land needs to warm up and get drier. Once things start developing weeds will still need controlling to prevent them affecting crop yield, and as it will be some time before we can travel, herbicide choice will be limited. However, Othello does a good job with AMG in winter wheat and also controls other broadleaf weeds, so this would be my choice, particularly as there may only be one opportunity to spray.