Vicki Brooks Blog: Taking full advantage of much-needed moisture

Agrii Events News

June 30, 2017

Vicki Brooks Blog: Taking full advantage of much-needed moisture

As well as being warm, May gave us a decent amount of much-needed moisture and, importantly, none of the drying winds that so often stress our crops through rapid transpiration. Although we’re only just into the second week of the month, June is keeping-up the good work so far too.

The rain came just in time for most of our winter crops – with the notable exception of barleys on lighter land which are already turning fast, with only the tramlines green. It looks like an early harvest here and one that probably won’t be much to write home about.

While they lost more tillers than we like during the April drought, our winter wheats have profited from a stress-free flowering to give us some encouragingly big ears with a large number of grains that are filling nicely. This should help compensate for lower ear numbers.

As they picked-up with the rain, the wheats have been cantering through their growth stages. So much so that, barely three weeks on from their T1s, most were at full flag leaf emergence by the time they received their T2s some even splitting boot.

A combination of the dry spring and our reluctance to cut back on early fungicides means we’ve been able to keep septoria well-confined to the base of most crops. And, while brown rust is all too apparent in susceptible varieties like Crusoe, it’s been very much confined to spray misses.

We’ve kept up the pressure on disease with T2 combinations of SDHIs, strobilurins and triazoles carefully matched to variety strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, given the sheer speed of crop development, we made sure to include enough activity against fusarium in our mixes.

The surge in both crop and weed growth meant that, to get it done ahead of label cut-offs, we had to go in with our late broad-leaved weed control separately rather than including it with the T2s. Not ideal, but particularly important with this season’s more open crops.

Another consequence of the season is that our T3s will be going on to rather advanced crops.  With recent rainfall set to prolong grain fill unless it again turns very dry, continued septoria and rust control will be a priority alongside fusarium protection. Our choices will, however, have to be restricted to products that can be used at the milky ripe stage. The winter OSR has really appreciated the rain too. Like the wheat, most is thinner than normal. But they have very well branched canopies, so they’re in a good place.

They’re also surprisingly even, which should make for easier desiccation decision-making. Our emphasis here will be very much on patience. We don’t want to go in too early and reduce yield and oil contents while increasing red seed risk. We’ll be using a pod sealant on varieties that don’t have shatter resistance to give ourselves the greatest flexibility in harvesting earlier maturing milling wheats which could well be coming ready at about the same time.

Also looking much better after a decent drink are our spring crops. Despite the dryness, mildew has been rife in lush, well-tillered spring barleys. We’ve been able to keep it well-controlled though, and the crops certainly have more potential than most of the winter barleys.

As do the spring wheats and, most surprisingly given the conditions, spring OSR which we were fortunate enough to drill in March just before the last rain for six weeks.