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Cropwatch South | March 2023

Blog - 10.03.23

After the climatic contortions of the season so far, we are making absolutely no weather assumptions, being prepared for anything and taking every opportunity we can for the most-timely fieldwork.

As well as the worst gout fly I can remember in wheat since before the days of Deter,
we have been having to cope with more damaging cereals frost-lift than I’ve seen in my entire working life.

Thankfully, the bulk of the gout fly has been in earlier drillings well-enough established to compensate for the tiller losses.

And a mammoth rolling effort across thousands of acres has been essential with cereals so badly lifted they could be brushed out of light chalky soils with the feet.

Our earlier wheat and barley sowings are, however, generally coming out of the winter in good shape. As is most of our OSR, which is pretty even, well-rooted and with a really good collar size despite having lost a lot of leaf in the cold. With the frost-lifting, the lack of root development in many of our later-drilled cereals is worrying, though.

Alongside the much-needed rolling, near-perfect early conditions have allowed us to get a decent first 70-90kg/ha of nitrogen onto all our winter crops.

This will be vital in supporting the large amount of growing they still have to do – especially if the spring turns out to be another dry one. It will also help compensate for the noticeably low soil mineral nitrogen levels being revealed in early tests.

With the frost damage, it’s difficult to tell how much light leaf spot there is in most of our OSR. As it definitely won’t be needing a specialist growth regulator, we’re looking to the Architect (mepiquat-chloride + prohexadione + pyraclostrobin) that impressed us last year for our stem extension spraying.

Generally low disease levels in our wheats so far mean we’re struggling to see a T0 place for folpet even in most earlier-drillings. We’re keeping an open-mind for now, of course.

But, with fungicides less than 10% of our wheat growing costs and T0 responses of over 0.6t/ha in last year’s Skyfall trials, we can’t risk the crown jewels when so much of the profit will be in the last tonne/ha – especially with a £50/t Group 1 premium.

We’ll probably be basing our T0s here on the bromuconazole/tebuconazole co-formulation, Sakura plus an early PGR to help with root development and tiller retention. And, in later sowings where disease is far less of a concern, our emphasis will be firmly on a different balance of trinexepac and CCC plus Nutri-Phite PGA for greater rooting support and a useful bio-solution like the elicitor, Iodus or the phosphite-based, Curative.

We’ve also taken full advantage of the February weather to get well over half our spring barley and a good acreage of spring beans in. They’ve yet to come through, but they went into some great seedbeds, were well-rolled and are rooting well. This should stand them in really good stead, whatever the weather.


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