October 5, 2015
Iain Richards Blog – Waiting on the ‘Indian summer’
By the time you read this in early October we should be revelling in the welcome, much belated ‘Indian summer’ promised by the forecasters.
The August deluge meant we couldn’t get a lot of our wheats and spring barleys combined until the early September weather break. So, much of our rape didn’t go in until the second week of the month.
Seed-to-soil contact was reasonable from conventional drilling. But wet subsoils and rapid surface drying meant difficult-to-consolidate seedbeds from subsoiler sowing. Not helped by some chilly nights, emergence here has been slow, with most crops at expanded cotyledon and some only just coming through. Not what we wanted at all with the large slug populations we’re fighting, not to mention concerning flea beetle numbers in some places.
Since the rape won’t be lacking for moisture, 2-3 weeks of settled, late autumn warmth will really help our vigorous, rapid-developing varieties show their establishment strength. As soon as they’re up and running, we’ll be applying an early graminicide – with a pyrethroid if flea beetles become troublesome – plus a good dose of Nutriphyte PGA. If ever there was a season we needed its phosphite root-boosting powers this has to be it.
As well as dampening the stubbles nicely and stimulating an excellent flush of black-grass to spray-off ahead of planting, this autumn has certainly helped dampen early wheat drilling ardours. Lightly cultivated after combining, most of our winter cereal ground is weathering down into some really promising seedbeds. A decent late September/early October weather window will be just what the drilling doctor ordered.
Our worst black-grass fields, though, will need continued patience. We mustn’t get lulled into a false sense of security by the excellent control we achieved last season. There’s still a sizeable weed seed bank legacy from previous years to contend with. So we’ll be holding our nerve wherever we can, aiming to get rid of two good flushes of weed growth before drilling and moving as little soil as necessary.
Knowing how much black-grass can come through in just three or four days, we’ll be including a permitted glyphosate in the pre-em where drilling has to be delayed more than a few days after our last pre-planting spray.
Last season our best results with problem black-grass came from splitting our wheat herbicide stack between pre- and peri-em. As well as extending the residuals’ life and leaving us less at the mercy of the weather, it was kinder to the crop.
Repeating this recipe, we’ll be waiting for the right conditions to drill, rolling well and using an immediate pre-em combination of flufenacet, flurtamone, DFF and prosulfocarb. Then, as soon as we can see the drills, we’ll be following-up with extra flufenacet plus pendimethalin. Gone are the days when a timely post-em could make up for uneven drilling or poor pre-em conditions. Early weed control is now so crucial – and expensive – that we must do everything possible to get it right.