Sam Patchett Blog: Gearing up for a busy Spring agronomy season

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March 1, 2018

Sam Patchett Blog: Gearing up for a busy Spring agronomy season

We’ve a larger area of spring cropping to go in than we would have had without the autumn monsoon.

Variable depth sowing into less-than-ideal November seedbeds meant we couldn’t risk pre-em treatment.  So early spring weed control will be our Number One priority as soon as the land dries out enough to travel.  That way we should be able to catch black-grass, in particular, before it becomes too well established.

October-drilled wheat on our lighter ground got away well and has gone into February with strong root systems, even growth and 5-6 tillers/plant.  Although it cooled down from December, we haven’t had anything much below -2o yet and certainly no persistent cold. As a result, depending on variety, there’s a good amount of Septoria, yellow rust and mildew around. Unless we get a prolonged cold snap soon it’s certainly not shaping up to be a low disease year.

This means a decent T0 fungicide looks to be on the cards for most of our October drillings. T0’s will be equally important for our later-drilled wheats too – but in a total different way. Cold weather since they went in means most are only at the 1-3 leaf stage and just starting to tiller. They also need plenty of support in the rooting department to help them deal with some decidedly challenging seedbeds.

Alongside what will probably be a relatively minor fungicide component, we’ll be using a combination of Nutriphyte PGA, foliar manganese and a low temperature active PGR here. We’ll also be prioritising these crops for early nitrogen – in exactly the same way we’ve always done with second wheats – as soon as conditions permit.

After all the rain we’ve had, it’s tempting to assume soil nitrogen levels will have been depleted.  But after similar conditions in the past we’ve been surprised to find how high they can remain in many cases. So we’re just sending away our first samples for N-min testing. That way we can get both N levels and timing as precise as they can be for the greatest value.

Oilseed rapes are some of the best established crops we have this year, with the earliest drilled just starting into stem extension in the first week of February. Most are even, well but not over-grown and very clean.

With the solid disease resistance we insist upon in our varieties we definitely aren’t seeing phoma like we used to. And our timely November combination of prothioconazole and tebuconazole seems to have kept light leaf spot firmly at bay too. GAIs of up to 1.75 in most cases mean we won’t be rushing out with the nitrogen although, wherever we can, we like to get a decent amount of sulphur into the crops as early as possible.

Most will be receiving our standard prothioconazole/tebuconazole co-formulation at mid-stem extension, together with difenoconazole+paclobutrazol for canopy management and foliar molybdenum, boron and manganese where necessary. We won’t be rushing into spring drilling either. Much of our ground needs a lot of drying and the vigorous spring barleys like RGT Planet we’re growing these days are ideal for sowing from late March, if not April; as are our spring beans.


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