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Cropwatch South | March 2021

Blog - 18.08.22

The crop we’re most excited about this season is oilseed rape. Having taken almost no pleasure from growing it for the past three years, we are once again looking to push performance rather than just limit damage. All the more so with present price prospects.

Unlike those tempted to sow farm-saved seed early at high rates, we have even stands of thick-collared plants with perfectly manageable larval burdens. Strong resistance in our hybrids and timely early winter spraying means there’s little evidence of light leaf spot either as they start growing strongly, supported by nitrogen watered-in by the recent rain.

So, we are happily leaving our stem extension spray to green bud to get the best branching effect from Toprex, with a top-up of prothioconazole to maintain our disease defences through to the flowering spray. Before that, of course, we’ll be back in with our second dose of canopy N and – hopefully – continuing to smile!

Our rediscovered OSR enthusiasm has been bolstered by the serious knock the first hard winter for a while has given winter linseed – especially on exposed chalkland, where trace element deficiencies weren’t addressed early or clethodim was employed to deal with blackgrass.

Although most of our crops should recover, we are very glad we haven’t more than dipped our toes into this particular water before gaining more experience. It’s certainly not an OSR alternative without its own share of risk.

Most of our wheats are also in a reasonable place as T0 approaches. In the absence of epoxiconazole, our preferred bromuconazole and tebuconazole co-formulation with or with folpet should keep the Septoria in our early drillings at bay.

For anything drilled from mid-October, yellow rust is our key concern – the cold spell having knocked any early brown rust firmly on the head. We’ll be relying on cyproconazole + azoxystrobin as our base here, adding pyraclostrobin where we have particular variety concerns. As a non-tebuconazole option, this also works well wherever we want to use pyroxsulam for brome control.

As always, we’ll include a low-temperature active chlormequat to support rooting and tillering, with a low rate trinexepac for the more forward crops as part of a split T0-T1 regime to reduce its harshness.

Mindful of how often spring drilling gets in the way of the best-laid plans, we gave our later-drilled wheats on heavier land – patches of which sat in water for almost a month until early February –
70-80kg/ha of N in their first split. And just as well, as spring drilling has been very much a stop-start affair this time around, with the earliest-sown crops taking almost a month to emerge.

We’re so glad we held off drilling barley on any heavier land. With soil temperatures beginning to warm and the weather settling down, it looks like we should have just the conditions we need to get the rest of our cereals, peas and beans off to the best possible start by early April.

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