November 23, 2017
Iain Richards Blog: Staying alert on several fronts
Dry weather, good light levels and reasonable temperatures through into mid-November have been just the ticket. Our later drilled wheats – including most of those after maize – have gone into some really nice seedbeds. Our oilseed rape and cover crops have recovered well from the cold, wet September to develop substantial canopies. And our primary cultivations ahead of spring barley have got off to a flying start.
As winter begins to make its presence felt then we’re in a far better place than we feared we might be two months back. But we’re staying alert on several fronts.
With much more phoma about this autumn, we’ve sprayed most of our OSR with prothioconazole-tebuconazole co-formulations in the past two weeks, adding extra tebuconazole to calm down the growthiest canopies – now up to eight big leaves.
Even though soil temperatures have fallen back, we’re holding-off on our propyzamide applications to give the rape canopies a chance to open-up with the colder weather. We always get better control from the later treatments that give us the best soil cover. They also allow us to target any light leaf spot, if necessary, with a timely pre-Christmas dose of prothioconazole.
Surprising levels of late flea beetle activity necessitated an insecticide with our first fungicide sprays. But we’ve seen enough adults since then to worry about larval levels. The vigorous hybrids we’re mostly growing and excellent October crop development should help to combat these. It’s still a worry, though.
Also worrying is the level of disease we’ve been seeing in our earlier cereal drillings. The amount of mildew on winter barley is something we’re keeping a very close eye on. While not so immediately concerning, the brown rust that’s been easy to find on Crusoe does mean we’ve earmarked a decently curative T0 here for the spring.
BYDV is another worry. Our earlier drillings have already had a follow-up spray to bolster their Deter treatment – very necessary with the amount of growth they’ve put on in recent weeks. The dressing means we shouldn’t need to over-spray most wheats drilled from mid-October. However, we’ll have to keep a close watch on the T-sum build-up with the BYDV Alert App in case we get another winter like 2015/16.
Thankfully, our emphasis on delayed wheat drilling, seedbed management and rotational changes, have meant black-grass isn’t quite such a major concern as it has been in many wheat crops in recent seasons. Later drilling does mean we have to put more care and attention into early spring nutrition to maximise root and tiller development. But this is small price to pay for the sort of weed control we just can’t get from the can anymore.
Alongside foliar phosphite, manganese and zinc well ahead of early nitrogen on these crops, one of our first 2018 priorities will be to spray-off some extremely good cover crop canopies. We need to get them well out of the way before drilling our spring barley and we know even the best glyphosates take a lot longer to work in the cold.