November 2, 2017
Vicki Brooks Blog: In a good place despite weeks without rain
Unlike much of the rest of the country, we could really do with some rain as we go into our main wheat establishment season. We’ve had barely 5mm since I last wrote in mid-September and, until last week, the sort of drying winds my colleagues in the north would be pleading for.
Sufficient patience and a welcome increase in the flexibility to match cultivation systems to changing conditions means generally well-structured winter cereal seedbeds, preserving enough of our unusually abundant early autumn moisture.
Reasonable seedbeds and good consolidation have stood our earliest wheat drillings on green-coded black-grass ground in good stead. As a result our first, early October-drilled crops are chitting and coming through evenly.
Heavy dews and mists over the past week are really helping our amber-coded fields drill well. Fingers firmly crossed – we should be able to get our late drillings on highest black-grass risk, red-coded land into equally reasonable conditions by the end of October.
Despite the recent lack of rain, we have been able to make the most of our early autumn moisture to dispose of two strong flushes of black-grass with glyphosate ahead of drilling in many cases.
Favourable seedbed conditions are also giving us just the opportunity we need to keep-up the pressure on grassweeds with strong pre-em flufenacet, DFF, flurtamone and prosulfocarb stacks.
As we can no longer rely on post-em control to any significant extent, we are bolstering these with extra peri-em flufenacet and DFF plus picolinafen where necessary to extend the residuality.
We’re also using noticeably more Avadex this season, both as traditional granules and in the new liquid formulation. The liquid is certainly proving far more practical, so it will be interesting to see how well it measures-up in performance.
With another relatively open autumn on top of the run of mild winters, the majority of our wheats have been Deter-dressed for maximum BYDV prevention.
Even so, we are using the proven T-Sum system to track likely aphid development with the state-of-the-art BYDV Alert App developed by our Agrii research colleagues. That way, we can be sure of spraying exactly when each particular crop needs it – and only where it does – rather than leaving things to chance or regional suction trap warnings alone.
The recent dryness has certainly depressed slug activity. But there were a plenty of eggs in the summer and we’ve seen more than enough grazing in stubbles to keep us on our toes with pelleting. After all, we know how quickly problems can escalate once we get any amount of rain.
Thankfully, we’ve been able to get our rape through the main period of slug and flea beetle risk relatively unscathed this season. Most crops are now pushing on to seven or eight true leaves and are remarkably even.
The fact that they are closing-up across the rows is reducing the pigeon risk. However, there are a few inevitable patches of poorer growth so we’re taking nothing for granted here, especially with the number of pigeons about!
Our post-em only broad-leaved weed spray programme is working well. At the same time, we have kept cereal volunteers under good control. Clethodim is proving just the job where we’ve needed it to keep a lid on black-grass in the relatively long gap before the soil cools down sufficiently for our propyzamide. Nor have we had much in the way of phoma pressure to contend with.
Altogether, we are in a much better place with both OSR establishment and wheat drilling stress than this time last year. But there’s plenty of time for things to change!