Theloss of Neonicotinoid seed dressings could give maize growers realestablishment problems in 2014s wet soils, warns Grainseeds technicaldirector Neil Groom.
The2 year Neonicotinoid ban means the popular seed dressing Poncho has beenwithdrawn for use this year leaving many growers at risk from leatherjacketsand wireworms and the serious damage they can do to yields.
Whilststrategic use of alternative treatments will be needed to avoid shortfalls,sound crop husbandry and good seedbed preparation are key too, he says.
Ifyour maize fields are after long-term grass, meadowland or set aside then thechance of you having leather jacket and wireworm problems are high, especiallyif youre on the wetter western side of the country where there is a greaterarea of parkland type grazing.
Interms of insect pests, the remaining pesticide Sonido offers good control butthere are limitations as to its use, he says.
WhilstSonido can be used as a seed dressing to give good control of soil pests, wecannot treat the same seed with both Sonido and Mesurol, and its Mesurol thatprovides the seed with the vital protection against birds.
Oneway of getting around the problem could be to mix Mesurol treated seed andSonido treated seed in the drill hopper so you get a level of control againstboth pests. But its only half the answer when it comes to protecting yields,Neil Groom points out.
Tofully counteract the loss of Neonicotinoids you really need to look at all theaspects of crop management that can affect early plant establishment.
Forexample, plants get away quicker if they are drilled into a warmer seedbed. Sodont drill too early try and leave it until the middle of May when the soilhas warmed up rather than in mid April.
Selectingvarieties with good vigour such as the ultra early maturing variety Picker ormainstream variety Hobbit will also speed up plant establishment and reduce thevulnerable seedling period.
Seedtreatments such as Opticoat, which contain Zinc and Manganese, are worthconsidering and placement fertilisers which give the roots a band of phosphateto tap into as soon as they emerge are a good idea.
Butgrowers must get all aspects of nutrition planning right and this means makinga realistic fertiliser plan, Neil Groom says.
Removingcompaction pans is also a priority.
Compactionis usually visible at around 12 18 of depth so get a spade out and check tosee if you have a problem. If there is a pan then use any dry weather period toremove these layers.
Itsalso a good idea to rotate maize around the farm if youve got the land to doit as this ensures you dont get weeds and pests building up and its probablybetter to be using short term leys based around Italian Ryegrass and hybridmixtures rather than long-term 6 – 7 year leys.