CropWatch: South – Top of the Crops? - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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June 13, 2014

CropWatch: South – Top of the Crops?

There’s plenty of water to go under the bridge – quite literally, if recent conditions are anything to go by – before we see what our wheats are really made of, writes Hampshire-based agronomist, Iain Richards. But, with the sheer number of ears and florets they’re sporting just now and no hint of moisture-stress ahead of flowering, almost every one of our crops is full of promise.

We’re much happier on the disease front than we were a month back too. Using uncompromisingly robust rates of SHDIs and mixed triazoles at T2 has allowed us to deal with serious concerns following our weather-delayed T1 applications.

Despite the most favourable conditions for it, this has stopped septoria development on leaf 3 in its tracks and kept leaves 1 and 2 nice and clean. We’ve also been able to hold yellow rust appearing in susceptible varieties firmly at bay with a tactical strobilurin.

With conditions staying warm and wet, good fusarium activity is the key priority as we move into our T3s. But we’re topping-up our septoria defences on leaves 1 and 2 at the same time. And with the Warrior race appearing to cycle more rapidly than previous strains, providing firm yellow rust protection wherever it’s needed.

Will T3s be enough ? Well that remains to be seen. Back in 2012 a T4 made all the difference in keeping our specific weights up. But we’re a long way from 2012 territory this season. While we’ve had plenty of rain, weather records on one of my farms show 40% more sunshine in the past four weeks than two years ago. So the key difference is enough spray days to get our timings spot on.

Even so, we’re staying on full alert for both fusarium and microdochium and won’t hesitate to go back in with the sprayer wherever we’re concerned. After all, with prices as they are, the last thing we can afford is to lose any yield or quality we don’t have to.

The changeable weather has put paid to any orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) threat to our early maturing varieties and early sown crops. But we’re keeping our eyes peeled on the later crops yet to come into full flower in case we get any of those balmy evenings the midges love.

Plenty of moisture and a stress-free flowering has allowed us to capitalise on the best hybrid agronomy to shut up our winter rape in just about the best shape I’ve ever seen. And our spring barley is looking a picture too, with excellent tiller retention and ear numbers.

Aside from serious water-logging in some spring crops on our heavier land, perhaps the only fly – or should I say, flea – in the ointment so far this season is our linseed. Despite multiple pyrethroid sprays, beetle attack has devastated establishment in some cases. So much so, that I really don’t see the crop being viable if we can’t use neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments.