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Crop Crack

Spraying Slow To Get Going This Spring

Welcome to the first crop crack of 2024 and for the first time in many months we look set to get at least a few settled days. Growth is not what we would expect for the middle of April, and it is important to note that stress in whichever form will affect nitrogen utilisation. Nevertheless, top dressings are kicking in and crops are starting to come away. The poor economics across the agri-sector coupled with the persistent bad weather conditions have left a very depressive mood amongst many of the farmers I have been speaking to in recent weeks.

Winter Barley GS30 – GS31

All crops have completed tillering, with the most forward fields past 1st node, GS31. Most are looking well considering the wet conditions over the winter. There are good plant counts and tiller numbers, but the mild winter means disease is already well established on these young plants with Rhyncho, mildew and net blotch showing in all.  Rhyncho remains the most damaging disease of barley, seriously damaging yield potential if not controlled quickly and effectively.

Winter Wheat GS22 – GS31

Growth stages vary widely depending on drilling date, but most are at various stages of tillering. Most have reasonably good plant numbers but some fields have suffered from waterlogging and unfortunately stitching in, up until now has been impossible. Septoria is established in all crops but particularly so in earlier drilled fields.

Disease Control

Rhynchosporium and Septoria are the two most damaging cereal diseases in NI. Both have always been more effectively controlled preventatively, but in previous times the curative properties of the azole family were able to rescue a bad situation, particularly in wheat, this is no longer the case.

Timing of fungicide applications and rates used are every bit as critical as product choice to achieve the maximum potential response. To ensure the main disease programme persists right through to ripening, it is advisable that all crops should by now have received a T0 fungicide where conditions have allowed. Farmers should be aiming to apply their main T1 fungicide application within the next week or so. Due to ground conditions to date, very few T0 sprays have actually been applied. Depending on crop stage, there may still be a good case for a T0 treatment. A T0 sets up a cleaner crop for its T1 treatment, which in turn can then can be less dependent on curative performance and more on preventative. Teagasc trials last year looking at the benefit of a late applied T0 were striking. They compared a very strong T1 + T2 programme with and without a T0.  The T0 application of full rate THIOPRON + half rate COMET (applied on 14th April 2023 at GS31, just 11days before the main T1 went on), gave a significantly cleaner crop at flag leaf, which went on to translate through to more than a 0.5t/ha yield improvement in wheat.

T2 and T3 applications following at 4-5week intervals, ie mid-May and mid-June. This T1 timing should coincide with the beginning of stem extension between 1st and 2nd node, GS31-32.

Holding the T1 timing to GS31-32 should ensure T2 in barley and T2 & T3 in wheat be optimally timed to avoid extended gaps, maintaining persistency right up to and during senescence. Where a crop has not received a T0 treatment product rate at T1 will need to be increased to take account of this.

Weed control

Many crops did not receive an autumn herbicide and for those still to be treated, control of Annual Meadow Grass (AMG) is the most pressing issue. HAMLET is an excellent option for AMG in wheat only, there is no similar late option for barley. Note that HAMLET will only control AMG that has already emerged; unlike the autumn products it has no pre-emergent activity. Where the AMG has been controlled in the autumn but for example chickweed, cleavers or groundsel are likely to be a problem, ZYPAR is an excellent stand-alone broad-spectrum herbicide controlling these and most other emerged BLW. It also works best when the weeds are growing actively and has post-em activity only, therefore delay use until all cleavers have germinated and temperatures have risen to encourage growth. ZYPAR is also an excellent tank-mix partner with HAMLET

Hamlet

Growth regulation

When applied before 1st node, GS31, application of certain chlormequat growth regulators can significantly increase tiller numbers. Chlormequat works by suppressing apical dominance, ie main stem development. In doing so it diverts the plant’s resources into producing and supporting more tillers. Particularly in wheat but in barley also, more tillers will go a long way towards compensating for low plant counts, ultimately increasing yield.

Correct timing is critical to maximise this effect. The earlier it is applied during tillering the greater the tiller effect, but note early application to increase tiller numbers will also reduce its effect on lodging. Application of a chlormequat based growth regulator often goes on with a T1 fungicide application sometime around 1st-2nd node, GS31-32. At this timing it is too late to affect tiller numbers and survival but will maximise the stem stiffening effect.

Early application will also increase root growth and so reduce stem-base lodging. Stem-base lodging is where the plant folds over at the soil surface as a result of poor anchorage in the soil, and is caused by poor root ball development, more likely when the seedling develops in wet soils that limit root development. All winter crops have rooted very shallow this season as a result of the persistently wet conditions and therefore stem-base lodging is likely to be a significant problem later this season.

Nutrient Deficiency

A combination of waterlogged soils, plants already suffering from restricted nutrient uptake and plants now trying to grow, is showing up Mn deficiency in many barley crops. Continuous cereal ground and ground recently limed is most prone to deficiency. Symptoms begin with small pale green speckles appearing throughout the leaf and these will progress to turn brown unless treated.

Copper deficiency often accompanies Mn deficiency – its symptoms are complete browning of the leaf tip especially the youngest leaves, and apparent wilting of the plant. Treatment will be most effective if treated immediately symptoms are recognised.

With air quality significantly improving over the last two decades, the most important source of sulphur to the soil coming from the pollutant gas sulphur dioxide has also reduced significantly. Whilst its deficiency is now being recognised and corrected on grassland through the application of high sulphur compound fertilisers, its impact in cereal crops in NI has by and large been misidentified or overlooked. After nitrogen, phosphate and potash, sulphur is the next most important element required by all crops, used to make essential sulphur containing amino acids and proteins in all plants. Soil sulphur is easily leached especially from light to medium soils, making shallow-rooting plants particularly vulnerable to deficiency. Deficiency causes paling in the cereal plant, caused by a reduction in chlorophyll production and even in the absence of any symptoms, decreased efficiency of nitrogen utilisation. Whilst often mistaken for lack of nitrogen, sulphur is not very mobile within the crop and therefore deficiency is most pronounced on the younger leaves; the opposite to nitrogen deficiency which affects the oldest leaves first. Crops of both wheat and barley with high yield potential are particularly responsive to one to two applications of foliar sulphur at the timings of rapid growth.

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Spring Crops Growing Rapidly

The catchy weather in April and early May has meant Septoria pressure has been extremely high especially on those earlier drilled winter wheat crops. The ear has now emerged on many crops of Extase and mildew is present on the more forward lush crops of Graham. Aphid numbers are currently very high in both winter and spring cereals. Any late drilled spring barley should be inspected and if colonies are found on over 50% of plants it should be treated to reduce the risk of BYDV.

Most spring cereal crops continue to benefit from the recent improved temperatures with many now racing through the growth stages.

Zypar Strapline

Crop Nutrition

As soils warm up and daylight hours are considerably longer the likelihood of crop stress through too little moisture, or not enough nutrient availability to support the potential rate of growth is now showing up in later drilled crops. As a result, many fields are beginning to show variation of colour and growth, and such variation is very difficult to address in a satisfactory way. Manganese (Mn) deficiency is widespread in much of our local soil types, and particularly damaging if not treated.  Continuous cereal cropping, ground recently limed and dry soils all increase the likelihood of deficiency.  Symptoms begin with small pale green speckles appearing throughout the leaf and these will progress to turn brown unless treated. Barley is particularly susceptible to manganese deficiency.

A young plant that is growing extremely rapidly is producing a huge amount of new plant tissue each day. This rapid growth is limited only by the availability of nutrients to synthesise biomass, dependant on soil fertility and the plant’s own root development to take up the nutrients. It is at this time therefore when nutrient deficiencies are most likely to appear and in doing so, suppress growth rates.

The application of a broad-spectrum trace-element mix along with key macronutrients during this time is a very useful and beneficial way to supplement the plant’s nutrient requirements during periods when availability does not meet demand, most likely to coincide with phases of rapid growth. Application of a balanced and readily available source of macro & micronutrients that is topping up what is being made available from the soil at this key time will minimise the adverse effects of restricting nutrient availability.

CEREAL HIGH N supplies 250gm N, 38gm Mg, 45gm Cu and 15gm Zn per hectare.

Fungicide Timing

The T1 application should be applied from late tillering to the start of stem extension, GS24-31. Since this treatment is primarily for insurance and the risk of infection being present at this time is low, it follows that rates can be reduced compared to the winter crop. The T2 is the more responsive timing in spring barley when Ramularia is also a significant risk, therefore more of the spend should be directed at the T2 timing. This application should be applied from first awns visible to ear completely emerged, GS49-59. Also bear in mind too that preventing Rhyncho infection is much more effective than trying to control it curatively. Once infection has come in, any eradicant treatment has limited efficacy, and the infection will stress the crop, increasing the risk of Ramularia infection sooner rather than later.

 

Lodging Control

Application of SELON at early tillering will have increased tiller and ear numbers and therefore yield potential, but will not have given any reliable strengthening of the straw. Stems that extend rapidly during the stem elongation phase are more likely to be weaker and so there is a greater risk of lodging especially where the crop is being pushed on with nitrogen. SONIS/CRATUS can be used but its cut-off in spring barley is 2nd node, GS32. CANOPY is a very useful alternative, safe to the crop and able to be used right up to and including full flag leaf, GS39.

Because the application of SELON at mid to end of tillering (GS23-30) does give reliable later season lodging control in wheat, it is less likely than spring barley that spring wheat will need a growth regulator towards flag leaf unless the crop is particularly dense.

Spring Crops Emerging Quickly

Spring Cereals

Spring crops are looking very well and without the more usual effects of waterlogging seen in other years.  Although weeds are emerging fast as a result of last week’s rain, be sure all are well through before spraying. Also watch the size of the annual meadow grass if this weed is also to be controlled – efficacy falls off rapidly once it begins to tiller. It is important to note that this season aphid numbers are the highest I have seen for a very long time and it would be advisable to apply an aphicide to control the spread of BYDV.

To minimise the effects of competition on the crop and optimise the level of weed control, herbicide application should be carried out once all weeds have emerged but are still small, and before they begin to compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Carrying out the weed control when they are at the 2-4 leaf stage is much more effective especially on difficult weeds such as fumitory and knotgrass, rather than delaying to coincide with the 1st fungicide application.

Broad leaved weeds resistant to particular groups of herbicides in NI is not a new problem – chickweed resistant to herbicides such as ALLY has been widespread throughout the province for some years. Sulfonylurea (SU) herbicides such as metsulfuron have a single mode of activity, blocking the production in many BLW of a key enzyme, acetolactate synthase. Products that use this mode of activity are known as ALS inhibiting herbicides and include the SU chemistry. As well as chickweed, mayweed and poppy have also developed widespread ALS resistance. This particular resistance problem has been managed by including herbicides into the tank-mix with different modes of activity to maintain good weed control.

Zypar Strapline

In spring cereals, ZYPAR will give excellent control of a wide range of weeds that will not be controlled by Ally on its own. These include chickweed, fumitory, fat-hen, groundsel, brassica weeds, and cleavers. It’s one relative weakness is redshank. Whilst it will control it to 6-leaf, it should be tank-mixed with another herbicide to ensure redshank right up to flowering is satisfactorily controlled. ALLY MAX and SAXON are excellent tank-mix partners for this purpose.

 

Winter Cereals

Winter cereals have greened up well and are now racing through the growth stages. Awns are now out on almost all winter barley crops with growth regulator applications complete. The cool nights during April held back the crop response to nitrogen, but this has turned around and all nitrogen applications should be completed in the coming days to maximise green leaf development and crop yield.

Winter wheat crops which have not yet received T2 should be treated as soon as possible along with the growth regulator if required. The cool dry April and well timed T1 treatments have kept Septoria infection low, but it is present in all crops and remains a key focus for T2 treatments planning forward. Yellow Rust has been observed at low levels but perhaps a combination of cold nights and effective varietal resistance has meant that there have been no explosions of infection we were more familiar with other years.

Spring Crops Growing Well

Spring Cereals

Spring crops are looking very well and without the more usual effects of waterlogging seen in other years.  Although weeds are emerging fast as a result of last week’s rain, be sure all are well through before spraying. Also watch the size of the annual meadow grass if this weed is also to be controlled – efficacy falls off rapidly once it begins to tiller. It is important to note that this season aphid numbers are the highest I have seen for a very long time and it would be advisable to apply an aphicide to control the spread of BYDV.

To minimise the effects of competition on the crop and optimise the level of weed control, herbicide application should be carried out once all weeds have emerged but are still small, and before they begin to compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Carrying out the weed control when they are at the 2-4 leaf stage is much more effective especially on difficult weeds such as fumitory and knotgrass, rather than delaying to coincide with the 1st fungicide application.

Broad leaved weeds resistant to particular groups of herbicides in NI is not a new problem – chickweed resistant to herbicides such as ALLY has been widespread throughout the province for some years. Sulfonylurea (SU) herbicides such as metsulfuron have a single mode of activity, blocking the production in many BLW of a key enzyme, acetolactate synthase. Products that use this mode of activity are known as ALS inhibiting herbicides and include the SU chemistry. As well as chickweed, mayweed and poppy have also developed widespread ALS resistance. This particular resistance problem has been managed by including herbicides into the tank-mix with different modes of activity to maintain good weed control.

In spring cereals, ZYPAR will give excellent control of a wide range of weeds that will not be controlled by Ally on its own. These include chickweed, fumitory, fat-hen, groundsel, brassica weeds, and cleavers. It’s one relative weakness is redshank. Whilst it will control it to 6-leaf, it should be tank-mixed with another herbicide to ensure redshank right up to flowering is satisfactorily controlled. ALLY MAX and SAXON are excellent tank-mix partners for this purpose.

 

Winter Cereals

Winter cereals have greened up well and are now racing through the growth stages. Awns are now out on almost all winter barley crops with growth regulator applications complete. The cool nights during April held back the crop response to nitrogen, but this has turned around and all nitrogen applications should be completed in the coming days to maximise green leaf development and crop yield.

Winter wheat crops which have not yet received T2 should be treated as soon as possible along with the growth regulator if required. The cool dry April and well timed T1 treatments have kept Septoria infection low, but it is present in all crops and remains a key focus for T2 treatments planning forward. Yellow Rust has been observed at low levels but perhaps a combination of cold nights and effective varietal resistance has meant that there have been no explosions of infection we were more familiar with other years.

Zypar Strapline

 

Straw Stiffeners & Fungicide Applications Crucial Now

A good start has been made to drilling spring crops, with the earliest drilled now emerging in the more forward areas. After a very mild winter, the colder temperatures during the first half of April slowed development in all winter crops, with many fields actually going backwards. The cold night-time temperatures have been very stressful to winter crops, hampering nutrient uptake causing purpling, yellowing and tipping of some leaves. However warmer temperatures and rain over the last week has improved everything, with all winter crops now looking much better. What is clear given current pricing it is more important than ever to optimise fertiliser applications to maximise the efficiency of utilisation of N, P and K. Soil pH is key – make sure this is above 6.2 for winter and spring crops. Granulated lime at around £125-135/t is excellent value and we should see a lot more of the granulated lime being applied to improve NPK utilisation. Correct use of foliar feeds also has an important role to play, where often it is not the amount of N applied that is the limiting factor, but perhaps sulphur or one of a number of micro-nutrients.

Growth regulation

The size of canopy at GS30-31 is a good indicator of future lodging risk, with larger canopies associated with greater lodging risk. Assess lodging risk on a field-by-field basis, also taking account of the field soil residual N and lodging history, and the varietal lodging resistance score. Numerous other factors contribute to crop lodging including sowing date, early growth over the winter months, and late season extreme weather events.

Against this background, a programmed approach made up of a number of treatments promoting shorter and stronger stems is essential. Plant growth regulator (PGR) choice, timings and rates all impact the outcome achieved. Early sown crops with thick canopies are most at risk of lodging, particularly if of a weaker strawed variety, and will require a more intensive programme to minimise the risk of lodging

Fungicide update

With a better understanding of disease resistance to single-site triazole, SDHI and strobilurin chemistry, maintaining the efficacy of this chemistry is critical to being able to continue to control wheat and barley diseases effectively. Multi-site chemistry is key to prolonging the efficacy of the single-site chemistry. Chlorothalonil (CTL) was the mainstay of multi-site activity for years, but with its loss two seasons ago now, folpet, available from Syngenta as MIRROR is regarded as the most effective replacement.

Folpet is a multi-site active, and all manufacturers are advocating the inclusion of this active into wheat and barley programmes, not only to prolonging the single-site actives, but to improve disease control also. Its inclusion improves Septoria activity in wheat and gives some improvement of Ramularia in barley. Like CTL, folpet is a contact ingredient only with no systemic activity, protecting the surface of the leaf by preventing the fungal spores germinating on the surface of the leaf.

Early weed control – Annual Meadow Grass In Spring Crops

If Annual Meadow Grass (AMG) is to be controlled in spring crops, this must be done as soon as possible. This will be done before the timing for controlling broad-leaved weeds (BLW) in spring cereals. There are a number of product options, but all must be applied either pre-emergent or in the case of one, very early post-emergent of the crop.

Applied pre-emergent, all work by residual activity to control the AMG. Since residual herbicides require sufficient soil moisture to be effective, so their performance will be compromised in drier soils. This is the primary reason for the variable performance of AMG control achieved in the spring. Best control is achieved when applied onto a damp seedbed, keeping the water volume up and travelling slowly. To maximise efficacy and crop safety, ensure the label guidelines are strictly followed.

Get More From Your Grass

The last couple of weeks have offered a good opportunity for farmers to get up to date with much needed fieldwork. Grass growth has been slow due to low night time temperatures but chickweed has grown away through the winter and will need controlled especially in autumn reseeds. The presence of broad-leaved weeds will always take away from grass yield and quality. Docks and chickweed are nutrient loving weeds, thriving in nutrient rich regimes, ie more intensively managed swards. Docks have only 65% of the feed value of grass and are unpalatable to stock. Where infested swards are ensiled, their high nitrogen content adversely hampers a good fermentation, so leading to high pH silage that spoils quickly when opened and depresses intake. Dock seeds can also survive in silage and pass through the cow, infesting a field where slurry has been spread. The best defence against perennial broad-leaved weeds is to stop them establishing in the first place. This can be achieved by having a well-managed, dense sward, growing in well-structured non-compacted soil. Over or under-grazed leys that have been poached, offer perfect conditions for weed seeds to germinate. Topping or mowing weed plants provides short-term visual satisfaction but stimulates active regrowth – so the problem gets worse not better. The long-term solution for controlling persistent weeds in grass is to use modern systemic herbicides. A well-timed treatment with an appropriate herbicide can transform a weedy pasture into a productive ley, without the need for costly reseeding. Farmers may have to be more pro-active this year, as weeds have generally survived the mild winter and kind spring, so weed numbers are much higher than usual.

DOCKS

As thoughts turn to silage, treating dock-ridden leys with DOXSTAR PRO or PIVOTAL four weeks before cutting will significantly increase the amount of grass that ends up in the clamp and improve silage quality. Docks have much less feed value than grass and pull down dry matter. FOREFRONT T and HALCYON are the most effective herbicides available to grassland farmers for the control of docks, ragwort, chickweed, thistles, dandelions, nettles and buttercups. Both have long lasting weed control to date with a single well-timed spray giving up to 18 months control so whilst they may appear expensive it really is good value for money. Once the established docks have been controlled it is best to keep the problem under control with follow-up treatments every year. This controls new growth of seedling docks that will reappear because all that is required for dormant seeds to germinate is a gap in the sward caused by poaching or tractor marks.

In fertile soils, the dock root system consists of a large tap root with a highly branched mass of smaller fibrous roots. This means what appears to be a small dock plant above ground may in fact be growing from a large rooting system below ground. In order to achieve effective herbicide application docks should be at the rosette stage, with foliage8-10 inches high or across. If grass has been cut or grazed a period of three weeks must occur to allow sufficient regrowth and a suitable target for spraying. If applying FOREFRONT T, HALCYON, DOXSTAR PRO,PIVOTAL or PAS.TOR, livestock should be kept out of treated areas for 7 days before grazing and until the foliage of any poisonous weeds has died and become unpalatable, where clover is important SQUIRE may be applied in establishes grass.

 

CHICKWEED

There are 2 types of chickweed, common chickweed which is the most commonly found type, with a smooth leaf and mouse-eared chickweed which has a larger leaf than common, with a very hairy surface on the leaf & stem. Chickweed levels have built up very quickly this spring as this weed grows at lower temperatures than grass, and should be treated as soon as possible to avoid choking out the young grass. Similarly, established swards that have been poached by autumn grazing tend to be very open in the early spring and this allows chickweed a chance to become a problem. Chickweed can mature and produce seed in 5-6 weeks hence there can be several generations in a year. Mouse-eared chickweed is very common on many local farms and it is important to note the distinct differences and treatments. Both ENVY and LEYSTAR will be used widely on new sown leys this season where clover is not important. These will control both strains of chickweed.

To ensure a well fermented silage sufficient fertiliser must be applied at the correct time for intended cutting dates. On average allow one day’s growth for each 2-3 units of nitrogen between application and cutting. The younger the grasses the higher the feed value but the lower its yield. In general aim to cut before 50% of the ears have emerged to gain as much yield as possible. Short chopping speeds up fermentation and aids consolidation ensuring not to cut too short as long fibre is required for rumen function. Where conditions allow fast wilting in good weather will increase the concentration of sugars and reduce effluent production.

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Crop Spraying Almost Complete

All winter barley crops all looking well and the gates are now closed until desiccation takes place in the coming weeks. Most winter wheat crops have received their T3 earwash with a few later drilled crops still to be sprayed. Tebuconazole is the most effective triazole for Fusarium in particular and an important active in its own right at this time. The addition of a strobilurin is essential to maximise the persistence of the triazole, to strengthen activity on Yellow Rust, and delay early leaf senescence. Good grain fill is totally dependent on retaining green leaf area for as long as possible, and the addition of the strobilurin extends the retention of green leaf tissue.

Aphids in cereals

As the grains begin to fill the aphids begin to feed at its base on the ear, drawing off the sugars that should be filling the grain if left unchecked. Growers need to continue checking crops for aphids right up to early milky ripe stage (GS73) in barley, late milky ripe (GS77) in wheat, and spray if present in numbers. Where aphids are not present, unnecessary application should be avoided as any insecticide application at this time is not bee friendly. Of the aphicides approved for use for this purpose, SUMI-ALPHA is the least harmful to bees.

Pre Harvest Glyphosate

Winter barley crops are ripening well and thoughts will now turn to grain quality, moisture levels, and ease of harvesting. Pre harvest application of glyphosate is an essential tool to improve the efficiency of harvesting, giving a range of benefits. It looks like propionic acid is going to be unavailable this year so there is even more need for pre harvest glyphosate.

Independent trials carried out over a number of years in GB, looking at the effect of using Roundup in various replicated treatments consistently show moisture contents being reduced by 2.0-2.5% at harvest compared to plots where no treatment is applied.

Application should be made once the grain moisture gets down to 30% or below, ideally 10-14 days (and not less than 7 days) before cutting. An easy and reliable test to estimate this 30% moisture level is to press the thumbnail into a number of grains; if the indentation holds on all the grains the crop is ready for spraying.

Crops Growing Rapidly Following Warm Spell

Most spring cereal crops continue to benefit from the recent hot weather with many racing through the growth stages in a matter of days after the  early spring conditions. With temperatures now well above average and daylight hours considerably longer than for a crop drilled in early April, such conditions increase the likelihood of crop stress through too little moisture, or not enough nutrient availability to support the potential rate of growth. As a result many fields are beginning to show variation of colour and growth, and such variation is very difficult to address in a satisfactory way. Manganese (Mn) deficiency is widespread in much of our local soil types, and particularly damaging if not treated. Continuous cereal cropping, ground recently limed and dry soils all increase the likelihood of deficiency.  Symptoms begin with small pale green speckles appearing throughout the leaf and these will progress to turn brown unless treated. Barley is particularly susceptible to Mn deficiency.

A young plant that is growing extremely rapidly is producing a huge amount of new plant tissue each day. This rapid growth is limited only by the availability of nutrients to synthesise biomass, dependant on soil fertility and the plant’s own root development to take up the nutrients. It is at this time therefore when nutrient deficiencies are most likely to appear and in doing so, suppress growth rates.

The application of a broad-spectrum trace-element mix along with key macronutrients during this time is a very useful and beneficial way to supplement the plant’s nutrient requirements during periods when availability does not meet demand, most likely to coincide with phases of rapid growth. Application of a balanced and readily available source of macro & micronutrients that is topping up what is being made available from the soil at this key time will minimise the adverse effects of restricting nutrient availability.

CEREAL HIGH N supplies 250gm N,38gmMg,45gm Cu and 15gn Zn per hectare

Disease pressure has been lower than that seen for a long time on winter cereals and fungicides are now complete on winter barley. T2 applications should now be complete on winter wheat crops.

Spring Barley

Dry conditions have held back disease and at present all crops are fairly clean, but in our typically moist climate the likelihood of Rhyncho and Net blotch infections breaking out are inevitable unless controlled in good time.

Even where crops are considered to be clean, controlling Rhyncho early is much more effective than leaving it until it is seen. Once this disease comes into the crop, any eradicant treatment has limited efficacy, will stress the crop and increase the risk of Ramularia infection.

 

Spring Wheat

The young spring wheat plant isn’t subjected to the same disease burden as the overwintered winter wheat plant, therefore a two-spray programme usually suffices, with the T1 applied at 1st-2nd node, GS31-32, and the T2 applied at some point during booting, GS41-49. Whilst a large proportion of these crops are harvested as whole-crop earlier than the conventional combined crop, the feed quality of the harvested crop is very dependant on maximising grain-fill, therefore product choices and rates are similar to those of the winter crop, with significant yield responses to a proper programme.

 

Lodging Control

Application of SELON at early tillering will have increased tiller and ear numbers and therefore yield potential, but will not have given any reliable strengthening of the straw. Stems that extend rapidly during the stem elongation phase (as has happened this season because of late planting and high temperatures) are more likely to be weaker and so there is a greater risk of lodging especially where the crop is being pushed on with nitrogen. SONIS can be used but its cut-off in spring barley is 2nd node, GS32. CANOPY is a very useful alternative, safe to the crop and able to be used right up to and including full flag leaf, GS39.

Because the application of SELON at mid to end of tillering (GS23-30) does give reliable later season lodging control in wheat, it is less likely than spring barley that spring wheat will need a growth regulator towards flag leaf unless the crop is particularly dense.

Weed Control Time In Spring Cereals

Spring Cereals

The more pleasant night-time temperatures have seen a welcome burst of new growth in all crops. All spring crops are looking very well and without the more usual effects of waterlogging seen in other years.  Although weeds are emerging fast as a result of last week’s rain, be sure all are well through before spraying. Also watch the size of the annual meadow grass if this weed is also to be controlled – efficacy falls off rapidly once it begins to tiller. It is important to note that this season aphid numbers are the highest I have seen for a very long time and it would be advisable to apply an aphicide to control the spread of BYDV.

To minimise the effects of competition on the crop and optimise the level of weed control, herbicide application should be carried out once all weeds have emerged but are still small, and before they begin to compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Carrying out the weed control when they are at the 2-4 leaf stage is much more effective especially on difficult weeds such as fumitory and knotgrass, rather than delaying to coincide with the 1st fungicide application.

Broad leaved weeds resistant to particular groups of herbicides in NI is not a new problem – chickweed resistant to herbicides such as ALLY has been widespread throughout the province for some years. Sulfonylurea (SU) herbicides such as metsulfuron have a single mode of activity, blocking the production in many BLW of a key enzyme, acetolactate synthase. Products that use this mode of activity are known as ALS inhibiting herbicides and include the SU chemistry. As well as chickweed, mayweed and poppy have also developed widespread ALS resistance. This particular resistance problem has been managed by including herbicides into the tank-mix with different modes of activity to maintain good weed control.

In spring cereals, ZYPAR, which contains Arylex, will give excellent control of a wide range of weeds that will not be controlled by Ally on its own. These include chickweed, fumitory, fat-hen, groundsel, brassica weeds, and cleavers. It’s one relative weakness is redshank. Whilst it will control it to 6-leaf, it should be tank-mixed with another herbicide to ensure redshank right up to flowering is satisfactorily controlled. ALLY MAX and FOUNDATION are excellent tank-mix partners for this purpose.

 

 

Winter Cereals

Winter cereals have greened up well and are now racing through the growth stages. Awns are now out on all winter barley crops with both T2 application and growth regulator applications complete. Winter wheat crops which have not yet received T2 should be treated as soon as possible along with the growth regulator if required.

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