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Cropwatch South | April 2022

Blog - 08.04.22

With temperatures varying by as much as 18oC in a day, our crops have been under more than their fair share of stress lately.

A lot of sun and sharp easterly winds drying the ground out surprisingly rapidly after the early rain hasn’t helped either at a time when lengthening days are telling the plants they need to be moving upwards.

Getting a good early dressing of nitrogen on before the weather turned dry has been invaluable here; especially for OSR needing to grow away from some truly horrendous pigeon damage in places.

For the most part, plant populations are spot on. But we can only hope the early fertilisation and recent stem extension sprays have done enough to stop crops bolting. Noticeably colder weather going into April is slowing things down. We just need some welcome rain now to allow them to access their second dose of nitrogen.

Stress Management for OSR

We’ve also done as much as we can to reduce spring stress on the OSR by including foliar magnesium, molybdenum and boron at stem extension to address early imbalances that could easily have much more serious implications than usual this season.

Stress management has been a central to our wheat agronomy too, and a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, many crops have been in particular need of early growth regulation, and we are very conscious of the heightened Septoria risk to thick stands following a non-existent winter – especially with earlier sowings and after significant early rain splash. On the other hand, though, we dare not stress them with too much in the T0 tank.

To avoid this we have deliberately separated our spring weed clean-up from the spray.

Crop Protection: Patience and timing are critical

Where grassweeds were concerning we went in ahead of T0, which is the best timing to deal with them anyway. And, despite considerable broad-leaved weed populations in many cases, we are holding-off on controlling these until T1 wherever possible; not least because we fully expect more germination and don’t want to have to go in again.

Most of our T0 mixes are going on with foliar manganese and zinc to help crops use the nitrogen they’ve been able to access so far. And we are being very prescriptive about when to spray. Even where there’s more than enough Septoria in the base, it is far less risky to hold-off for a while than go in just before a sharp frost.

Despite a marked lack of frost tilth to help after the winter covers were sprayed off, the vast majority of our spring barley, peas and beans have gone into good seedbeds.

Two inches of mid-March rain in four days followed by rapid surface drying left some ground surprisingly hard in places and needing a little loosening ahead of the drill. It has also meant the earliest-sown barley on siltier land having to force its way through some troublesome capping. So, we fully expect crops that went in later in the month will catch them up in pretty short order.

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