November 26, 2019
CropWatch South – November 2019
A few reasonably dry days in the third week of October meant we got 80% of our planned winter barley into seedbeds allowing a pre-em before calling a halt to drilling. The headlands won’t be pretty. Still, at least it’s in and coming through.
Which is more than can be said for most of our wheat. No more than two consecutive days without rain for the past month means we only have about 40% of our crop drilled so far. Frustrating it may be, but it’s worth remembering that in 2012 we drilled a lot of wheat in early December and it did us remarkably well.
Establishing a Winter Crop
We know the key to wheat yields is the weather in May and June rather than when we drill – providing we get a reasonable crop established. This means we are keeping on drilling whenever and wherever we can. Our imperative is to get the seed covered enough to take the pre-em that’s essential if we’re to avoid adding weed-problem insult to late-sowing injury,
At this time of the year we have a good three week window for our pre-em spraying and any black-grass that comes through will be nowhere near as ferocious as earlier. So, getting the crop drilled decently is our only priority.
What’s more, it will continue to be our priority through to the end of January. We’d far rather have wheat to market next autumn than spring barley in an almost inevitable glut. And, having been unable to get any of their primary cultivations done, we’re already on the backfoot with our planned spring barley acres, let alone extra ground.
Effective Nutrition is Vital for Late-Drilled Crops
Late wheat sowing means lower disease and pest pressures as well as lower yields, allowing us to cut our early crop protection cloth accordingly. Early and effective crop nutrition will be more important than ever, though. As will early growth regulation to encourage rooting and tillering while combatting the heightened lodging risk from high seed rates and restricted root development.
Although the past three weeks have seen it grow away well, early growth regulation is certainly not on the cards for our OSR. As we deliberately avoided early drilling, we aren’t seeing huge numbers of flea beetle larvae. But slugs are a constant threat with relatively small plants, as are building phoma levels.
Centurion Max (clethodim) on all our worst black-grass fields has given us the breathing space to hold off on propyzamide treatment until January which always gives us the best results. Ahead of this, we will be using prothioconazole for the best disease control with boron and molybdenum to correct deficiencies revealed by early tissue testing and an insecticide to target flea beetle larvae.