May 16, 2017
Iain Richards Blog: Reinforcing risk management
Having set up our wheats with good early plant growth regulation, micro-nutrition and disease control, we’re looking firmly forward with our T1s rather than having to chase problems.
An early April T0 and hardly a drop of rain since has held Septoria back nicely. Crops on the gravel are now starting to look decidedly stressed, though. And even on the chalk we’re seeing the value of the extra manganese and zinc we included at T0 in greener, stronger and healthier crop growth.
We’re already finding clear magnesium and boron imbalances in our tissue testing. So we’re including these trace elements at T1 where necessary rather than leaving them until T2. Dry weather invariably increases crop stress and we know from AgriiFocus research how valuable micro-nutrition can be in relieving this and prolonging green leaf area.
With Septoria continuing to be very visible in the base of most crops and the curative armoury more stretched than ever, we’re using an SDHI at T1 as well as T2 in most cases this season – supported with a different triazole to T0 plus a strobilurin on yellow rust susceptible varieties.
We’re doing this because we can’t afford to assume the weather will stay dry. Conditions are set fair for T1 spraying. So we’re taking the opportunity to give what protection we can to Leaf 2 as well as 3 and avoid any T1.5 need should conditions change. At the same time, we want to minimise any risk from weather-enforced T2 delays.
It’s risk reduction for us with PGRs too. The last thing we can afford is flat crops getting in the way of already tight harvest schedules, and we know later PGRs alone don’t do the job. Rather than over-reacting to what could easily be a short-lived drought, we’re sticking to the little and often three-spray approach that has always given us the best result at the least risk.
Despite the dryness, our spring barleys are looking good. Many didn’t go in until April but pre-Christmas primary cultivations, minimal spring soil working and patience for the right drilling conditions has again been rewarded. They’ve found some decent moisture to get to three strong leaves and are now receiving extra manganese and magnesium with their PGRs together with the rest of their nitrogen.
Like the winter cereals, they could do with some rain pretty soon, though. As could our winter OSR, now into full flower with good early pod set and, in most cases, having what will, hopefully, be its only sclerotinia spray.
Encouragingly, what little black-grass escaped our autumn control isn’t enjoying the dryness either. With some good competitive crops, this means fewer heads/plant to add to the seedbank.