Arable News

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Field focus

So far so good, is the general consensus from our Nottinghamshire and North Yorkshire agronomists who are keen to make the most of what has been a relatively kind season to date weather-wise. Dominic Kilburn writes.

East Midlands

Although she is now considering her recommendations for T0 sprays to kick-off the spring fungicide programmes in wheat and barley, Nottinghamshire based agronomist Christina Scarborough said the first cereal fungicides actually went on crops prior to Christmas!

“It was such a mild autumn and early winter, that crops were thick and lush back then and full of mildew. I didn’t dare leave them as they were and so with the addition of some manganese in the mix, which helps plants find nitrogen in the soil and fight off disease, that fungicide application ensured crops looked good right the way through until spring,” she explained.

“Normally I’d be applying the first mildew control treatments in late March/early April,” she added.

Speaking on 20th March, Christina reckoned that T0 applications to wheat would be around the normal, early April, timing although disease pressure ahead of that was still relatively low. “There’s a bit of septoria on the lower, over-wintered leaves which I need to keep an eye on and that’s why a T0 is something I always go with in order to keep disease out from the start.

“Alto Elite (chlorothalonil + cyproconazole) is a cost effective option and one which I have successfully applied for many years to keep septoria out.

“For this application I can also tank mix in a herbicide to tackle some of the established broad-leaved weeds such as cleavers, and the first flush of spring weeds.”

Christina pointed out that any black-grass control that’s required in the spring is applied separately for it to work better by avoiding any antagonistic effects from other chemistry.

Monolith (mesosulfuron + propoxycarbazone) was applied to some fields in early March and she is currently making recommendations for other fields to be sprayed in April.

“Last year, although much later because of the snow, and following a comprehensive autumn pre-em programme, spring-applied Monolith helped turn crops around that were potentially going to be un-combinable,” pointed out Christina.

“Like everything else, black-grass hasn’t stopped growing over winter and this is the last shot at it for the season.”

Oilseed rape is also looking very good and just starting to take off, she noted. “Fertiliser has been going on and it’s turned into one of those seasons where they will need feeding to keep going,” she suggested.

“Autumn chemistry did very well in terms of weed control in the OSR, particularly new Arylex-containing product Belkar where the main target is cranesbill.

“We’ve been wanting a product like this for years and it’s done a very good job,” she added.

Treatments to control chickweed in new leys have been applied using Leystar (clopyralid + florasulam + fluroxypyr). Also helped by the kind weather, actively growing weeds have taken the product in rapidly with immediate positive results, said Christina.

She concluded with a reminder for farmers that the BPS online system is now open for 18/19 applications.

Christina Scarborough can be contacted via email: [email protected] or tel: 07969507082.

North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire-based AICC agronomist, Andrew Fisher said that it had been a case of trying to hold farmers back in February when they were cracking on with early nitrogen applications in the good weather. “In the end I got them to reduce the rate and now crops are getting a topping up,” he said.

Also speaking on 20th March, Andrew noted how different soil condition is now compared with the same period last year, and, to prove a point, following a recent heavy downpour both land and crops took it well.

T0 recommendations are being made for April applications and the earliest sown wheat crops (mid-September sown), are showing signs of septoria and mildew.

His usual option of a “cheap and cheerful” tank of Cherokee (chlorothalonil + cyproconazole + propiconazole) at T0 is now unavailable on account of it having been withdrawn at the end of 2018, and so Andrew reckons a tebuconazole + chlorothalonil mixture or co-formulation is likely to get the spring fungicide programme underway.

“That will protect leaf 4 as it comes out and tidy up any mildew remaining in crops,” he added.

According to Andrew, autumn herbicide programmes in winter barley did a great job and so it’s a toss of a coin as to whether to include a herbicide in the T1 at the start of April, or not. “There are cleavers in a few crops but nothing too bad, and in terms of grass weeds the mild autumn and winter has resulted in a few wild oats appearing in the winter barley.

“Some black-grass and brome was taken out in late February applications on the winter wheat crops, mostly with Monolith. It did a very good job and I feel we are now on top of them,” he commented.

With oilseed rape having already received PGRs for canopy manipulation, plus some boron, Andrew said that crops are now flying, having never really stopped growing over winter and some are now showing their first flowers.

Andrew suggested that many growers whose ELS and HLS agreements were now coming to an end are reluctant to accept a one or two years’ roll over of their schemes ahead of the proposed ELMS replacement of BPS scheduled for 2022. “Judging by all the bureaucracy and problems with payments, people have been put off and so, for now, they are waiting to see what the best course of action is to follow. Some growers are allowing the scheme to lapse but retaining grass margins and field corners wherever possible.

Andrew Fisher can be contacted via email: [email protected], or tel: 07836711918.

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