Cropwatch South – October 2020 - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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October 16, 2020

Cropwatch South – October 2020

We’ve certainly been glad to move on from the 2020 harvest. While extremely variable, it wasn’t actually as bad as we feared in many cases. Our November/December wheat drillings, in particular, were a pleasant surprise.

A combination of better prices and lower inputs meant average yields of 7.5-8t/ha generated the sort of margins we generally see from 10t/ha earlier-sown crops. Even though we couldn’t get on with any peri-ems, they haven’t set back our grassweed management efforts either.

Continuing to drill wheat also proved the right thing to do with the serious sprouting problems suffered by large areas of spring barley with little or no dormancy in another wet August. This gives us considerable heart as we continue to hold-off on wheat drilling on high grassweed risk fields.

All our winter barley and, by picking-off lower risk fields, a fair chunk of our wheat is already drilled into some decent seedbeds, thanks to twice as much August rain as 2019 and a warm, dry September.

Despite employing robust flufenacet-based pre-ems with Backrow to hold them in place, there’s a worrying amount of black-grass coming through with the crops – no doubt brought on by the good 100-125mm of rain we received in and around Storm Alex.

With dry soils and September temperatures of over 25oC so clearly comprising pre-em performance, we are needing to be especially robust with our peri-ems and early post-ems. This means extra flufenacet and DFF with the addition of pendimethalin in places.
Where necessary, we’ll be pepping-up the contact action too. For which iodosulfuron/mesosulfuron still have their place, as does clodinafop.

Any cereals emerged by the start of this month will be getting their first aphicide in the coming week and look like needing a minimum of two BYDV sprays.

Our later wheat drillings – which will going-in as soon as conditions permit now we’ve had such a strong black-grass flush – should profit from better residual herbicide activity in wetter and cooler conditions, and won’t need so much BYDV protection either. The absence of Deter means we’ll have to be even more vigilant and careful than usual with our slug pelleting, though.

The unsettled August really helped our OSR, the vast majority of which looks very well at 4-6 leaves despite not being sown early. Good levels of soil moisture enabled it to get away from a relatively late flea beetle migration. A dry September did cause us some concern. But better conditions overall and the fact that those sticking with the crop are the most committed growers have made all the difference.

As well as employing long stubbles, companion cropping, fast-developing hybrids and seedbed fertilisation, not forgetting the essentials of good autumn OSR management in the face of CSFB has been crucial here. Speaking of which, our key priority now is getting the clethodim on to hold back black-grass so we aren’t forced to use propyzamide too early, while leaving enough space for any phoma or even metconazole sprays.