Arable News

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Field Focus October 2015

A wet, stop/start harvest hasn’t put the damper on our agronomists this month

A wet, stop/start harvest hasn’t put the damper on our agronomists this month, who both reported good overall yields, while autumn fieldwork progresses. Dominic Kilburn writes.
Nottinghamshire and Lincs
It was a long and drawn out harvest for many, said AICC and Arable Alliance Nottinghamshire-based agronomist Andrew Wells. Speaking on the 17th September he reckoned there had been a great deal of stop/start during harvest with a lot of wheat coming in above 16 per cent moisture in order for it to be got in.
“That said, the stores are full and two more dry days will see any remaining wheat and beans completed,” he pointed out.
According to Andrew, medium and heavy land in the region has had some exceptional yielding crops this year with some of the older wheat varieties such as Santiago and KWS Kielder pushing newer varieties like Evolution and Revelation all the way in terms of yield.
On the contrary, those crops on the lightest land have had “good but not exceptional” yields, claimed Andrew – with only six inches of rain measured between the 1st January and the end of July resulting in some drought stress. “As is typical, August became the wettest month of the year (so far) by the end of it,” he added.
OSR drilling had all but finished – the earliest drilled crops established well with no real problems from flea beetle. “I get the impression that we are not dealing with massive populations of slugs either, probably as a result of the dry spring and early summer, but I’ll be watching volunteer crops in some fields as a guide to slug activity and in some cases baiting to take slugs out pre-drilling of wheat,” Andrew explained, adding that he’ll be particularly vigilant of both pests in later-drilled, small OSR crops.
The process of taking out cereal volunteers in OSR with graminicides has begun with thoughts then turning to Centurion Max (clethodim) application timings, followed by propyzamide once temperatures have dropped. “We’ve seen better results from Centurion Max when there has been reasonable moisture levels, as there are this season, and so we may look at applications in early October, when crops have 4-leaves and the grass weeds are at 3-leaves or bigger.”
Soils have worked well for the early drilled wheats which have gone into good seedbeds, Andrew said, and he suggested that a dry spell in late September and into early October would see the bulk of his farmers’ wheats being drilled. “I think the delayed drilling message for effective black-grass control has been taken on board by most growers and, where possible, they have got two glyphosate applications on to stale seedbeds this autumn which has worked well.
“I’ll be monitoring phoma from early October – the small, later drilled crops will require prompt action if phoma thresholds are met, while light leaf spot isn’t normally a problem here prior to Christmas.”
Western England
It’s been a bit of a battle since mid-August admitted Herefordshire-based Hillhampton Technical Services agronomist, Antony Wade who said that a delayed harvest due to wet weather has put growers on the back foot this autumn.
Some wheat wasn’t quite fit when harvest started in early August which was frustrating for some, he highlighted, although yields were pretty good across the board with oilseed rape producing an above average 3.9t-4.7t/ha, and wheat a very good 10.5-13.5t/ha.
“Even second wheats performed very well,” he added.
Speaking in the middle of September, Antony said that all of his oilseed rape drilling had just been completed, and he thought that the overall acreage was a little down on last season, mainly due to price, concerns about flea beetle and the general cost of growing the crop.
“The delayed harvest hasn’t really helped either otherwise I think more growers would have got a few more acres in the ground,” he commented.
At the time of writing, Antony said he was hoping to start winter wheat drilling any day but, again, the delay in harvest had caused a knock-on effect on stale seedbed opportunities this season.
“We will try and spray off stale seedbeds when and where we can but time will be short,” he stated.
Brome and ryegrass remain the main grass weeds to be targeted this autumn, both of which are becoming more challenging to control, he said. “Last season we got inconsistent control from spring products – not because of resistance issues but cold temperatures meant that contact material was less effective on both weeds.
“In this part of the country we are starting to consider more Avadex (tri-allate) being applied in the autumn, mostly by contractors, at early post-emergence following pre-emergence applications. Hopefully this is catching early emerging brome and ryegrass, as well as some of the increasing numbers of black-grass being seen, and reducing populations ahead of spring programmes.”
“Phoma is likely to be in rape crops early this season and light leaf spot is a concern too. In fact, I would say that almost as much attention is now paid to LLS as phoma, but with more RL varieties geared towards phoma resistance, it does make variety selection more difficult.
“We try and grow varieties that have good resistance to phoma so that we can get away without a spray in the early part of the autumn and then catch it later, combined with LLS control, with a late October/early November fungicide application.”
Hopefully, with plenty of moisture about, oilseed rape crops will get away and establish well, commented Antony, who added that vigilance on slug control would be important. However, he remains concerned that because many growers are behind schedule with their autumn drilling, some will try and force cereal seedbeds in ground that is too wet. “Growers must be patient otherwise there will be negative implications on crops for the rest of the season. Soil conditions must be right,” he concluded.
*Antony can be contacted on 07973243590 or on Twitter: @HTSagronomy.

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