March 3, 2017
Iain Richards Blog: Making a solid spring start
With everything beginning to wake-up, our more backward oilseed rapes have been getting their first spring nitrogen. While the rest of the rapes and our later-drilled and second wheats will be receiving theirs in short order, we won’t be fertilising any wheats drilled before the middle of October until well into March. They certainly don’t need any extra encouragement!
None of our wheats will be doing without a T0 this season. Not just because we’re finding so much active Septoria about. Nor because we’re taking any belt-and-braces approach. But because it’s such a key part of our whole cost-effective wheat management strategy.
Even though more than 15 years of my R&D colleagues’ comprehensive trials show an average benefit of over a third of a tonne/ha from the spray, there have been times when we’ve struggled to get a clear yield response from a T0. For us, however, that’s missing the point.
Our T0s are designed to put us well ahead of Septoria, in particular, so we have enough leeway to cope with any T1 or T2 weather delays and don’t have to more than make-up for any early season economies with extra mid-season expense. More than this, though, they’re focussed at least as much on plant growth regulation and micro-nutrition as on disease control.
Because they’re so lush, thick and well-tillered, early plant growth regulation will be a priority for our earlier-sown wheats. As well as knocking back the relatively high levels of Septoria they’re carrying, we want to balance them up and make sure we get a good shortening of internodes and further root development, minimising what could easily otherwise be significant lodging risks.
So we’ll be using a robust T0 dose of a low temperature active chlormequat alongside a decently curative epoxiconazole-based fungicide and a multi-site protectant. Although our preferred triazole combination also has a good element of rust as well as mildew activity, if yellow rust rears its head we’ll be including a stobilurin to bolster on variety defences.
Lower levels of disease mean we may well only need a multi-site protectant at T0 for the wheats drilled after mid-October, together with a PGR approach targeted more at extra tillering and root development.
We’ll probably be including a phosphite at this stage to boost rooting too and, depending on individual crop needs and soil conditions, extra manganese and zinc. We get more trace element imbalances than most on our downland and the latest research underlines how valuable the best-balanced micro-nutrition can be in ensuring the healthiest, most stress tolerant crops.
Ahead of T0, of course, we’ll be going in with a good grass weed tidy-up so don’t compromise timings or let tank-mixing considerations get in the way of the best product choice. Fingers firmly crossed, I have to say our black-grass levels are gratifyingly low at the moment. Long may that last.