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Talking Agronomy | Jo Bell - October 2020

Blog - 16.10.20

Mid-September and there’s just some linseed and beans to finish harvesting.

As we feared, the August storms took their toll of some cereals. Oats were the worst hit, with up to 50% of the grain on the floor; a shame when they were looking such a good alternative wheat break. Still, we must never make decisions on a single season.

Spring barleys suffered too, crops brackling and losing heads while later green tillers and patches ripened. Going in as early as we could with glyphosate allowed us to avoid the worst effects.

The vast majority of our milling wheat has made spec. and is selling at a good price. Another change of plan – switching to foliar ear nitrogen instead of our normal bagged top-up in the dry spell – paid dividends here.

Careful nitrogen management was equally important in ensuring our Explorer barley made the Budweiser spec.

With all the wheats safely in the barn, KWS Zyatt, Skyfall, Dickens and KWS Kerrin have all done us well, with careful fungicide management to combat yellow rust, in particular. And even crops we drilled late in February have outperformed spring wheat.
KWS Extase continues to interest us for its strong disease package. From what my research colleagues have seen, RGT Lantern and RGT Silversufer are also ones to watch.

And hybrid, SY Armadillo looks to be the pick of the new barleys – not least for its resistance to brackling.

Rafaela and Amistar barleys and RGT Wolverine wheat are very much on our radar too for their BYDV resistance; especially so as good options for headlands where we can’t apply insecticide.

All but a few fields of OSR that came out of fallow – so had no ground cover ahead of sowing – are looking well (fingers still firmly crossed). Sufficient moisture and our combination of vigorous fast-developing varieties, companion cropping and seedbed fertiliser have kept them safely ahead of the beetle so far. Things may change if it turns dry, of course! Thankfully, those after spring barley have noticeably low blackgrass levels so far.

Most crops have had an early post-em application of Ralos (metazachlor + aminopyralid + picloram) or Katamaran Turbo (dimethenamid-P + metazachlor + quinmerac) along with a graminicide for volunteers and Nutri-Phite PGA as an extra rooting boost. We have needed little or no insecticide yet, although aphids are building now. With slug levels reaching threshold levels, however, we are being very diligent with pelleting.

Winter linseed is about to be drilled with seedbed phosphate. It will have pre-em Callisto (mesotrione) as standard and Avadex (triallate) where we need extra grassweed muscle.

Cultivations ahead of winter cereals are going well, with many situations meriting the plough. Blackgrass dormancy seems to be high, so patience and a good five weeks will be needed to get a solid chit for glyphosate spraying.

More than ever this year, we will be prioritising the right glyphosate product and rate, matched with an adjuvant wherever necessary, to get the best pre-drilling kill. We will be testing the water hardness to make sure we have the correct balance of water conditioning, drift control and penetration.

Barley drilling will be underway soon. But, unless fields are blackgrass-free, our wheat won’t be going in until mid-October.

Our pre-emergence herbicide programmes will be firmly based on flufenacet, DFF, picolinofen and prosulfocarb, with Avadex where necessary. In some cases we will take a look at aclonifen, although precision will be essential for safety and efficacy. The metribuzin, flufenacet and DFF combination of Octavian Met may be useful for barley.
Slug control looks like being paramount this season, with well manufactured ferric pellets, plenty of baiting points and a careful check on spread distance the keys.

A good BYDV strategy will be important too. Wherever possible, we will be keeping a five week gap between green bridge destruction and crop emergence, and utilising the Rhiza BYDV Alert service to ensure the best insecticide targeting.

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