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Crop Crack

Spring Barley Weed Control – Potato Weed Control

The rising temperatures over the last week have been very welcome for all crops but unfortunately awns have begun to appear on winter barley with critical plant growth regulator missed. Mildew is present on almost all winter cereal crops and should be treated at T2 timing. In spring barley & spring wheat an early application of ADJUST increases root development and the numbers of surviving tillers which will improve crop establishment and yield. Because of the spring crops more rapid progression through the growth stages than the winter crop, the growth regulator must be applied very early to maximise the suppression of apical dominance and therefore divert nutrients and growth to promote secondary tiller development. Optimum timing for barley is from the 2nd expanded leaf stage to beginning of tillering, GS12 – 21 whilst in wheat the optimum timing is slightly later, 5 leaf to mid tillering, GS15-24. This treatment also gives a consistent straw shortening effect in wheat, but not in barley.
Leatherjacket numbers are considerably higher this year with widespread damage to grass swards particularly in the west of the Province. Damage is now becoming evident in some of the earlier drilled cereals. Feeding activity and therefore the likelihood of damage will increase as soils continue to warm. Crops most at risk are those drilled into old ley or dirty stubble, but monitor all emerging crops closely for signs of damage. The grubs will be quite easy to find in areas of poor emergence, when the soil is dug down to a depth of 4-5cm.

Spring Barley

To minimise the effects of competition on the crop and optimise the level of weed-control, the herbicide application should be carried out sooner rather than later, once all the weeds have emerged but are still small, and before they begin to compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Product choice depends on the weed type and size present and crop growth stage. Broad leaved wise, Sulfonyl-urea (SU) herbicides will likely be the starting point, controlling a wide range of weeds and are very safe to the crop. However they must always be tank-mixed with another BLW herbicide to control SU resistant weeds (chickweed) and those weeds not controlled by the SU’s (cleavers, fumitory and fat-hen). Ideal partners are Compitox,Oxytril Cm and Spitfire. Each of these partner options are very tank mixable, and other products such as ADJUST and MAXMAN can also be safely added.
Where the range of BLWs present are limited to chickweed, redshank, fat hen, fumitory & day nettle, the hormone mixture products will work well without the need to tank-mix, but must be applied by GS31. Where the likes of field pansy, forget-me-not, speedwells & corn-marigold are also present however, sulphonyl-ureas products will improve control. Spring barley, spring wheat and spring oats undersown with grass and clover should be treated with TRIAD and where clover is not important MIRCAM PLUS should be applied. If seedling docks, thistles and buttercup are also problem weeds, SPRUCE must be added to the TRIAD to improve control of these also. SPRUCE is 2,4DB, a clover safe hormone type herbicide.

Winter Barley

All winter barley crops have now received their T1 fungicide, with the T2 planned for the coming weeks. Prothioconazole in (MOBIUS or SILTRA) or epoxiconazole in (MANTRA or ADEXAR) at this critical timing will give maximum benefit over straight triazole products. Mildew levels are extremely high and thereforeTALIUS should be added.

Winter Wheat

Like the winter barley, the mild winter means Septoria and Mildew levels are higher than seen at the same time in recent years. Yellow Rust has also been found in some earlier sown crops and the threat will remain high. Robigus and Einstein have both broken down to new races of this disease and are more susceptible than ever. Like the barley, the T2 application should now be planned as recently applied fertiliser coupled with warmer temperatures will push crops through the growth stages very quickly.

Potatoes

With planting progressing well to date, this year’s crop is going in in almost perfect conditions right across the Province. Drills are moist and with this week’s increased temperatures rapid emergence of both crop and weeds will occur. Therefore growers should be planning weed control now, taking good advantage from the moist soil conditions. Most weed control programmes are based on residual products ie products that are taken up through the soil, and are therefore very dependent on sufficient soil moisture to work effectively. Soil conditions are ideal therefore at the moment, moist enough on the tops of the drills to allow the herbicide be taken into the soil and taken up by the germinating weeds. Contact products such as RETRO,ROUNDUP and TITUS may be applied. All require the inclusion of a residual partner to maintain clean drills up to the time of the crop canopy closing the drills. Residual products are DEFY, SENCOREX, AFALON and GAMIT.
All potato herbicides carry timing restrictions and some namely SENCOREX have varietal restrictions and it is therefore important to seek advice on the best product choice.
SHOGUN has a full recommendation for scutch control on ware potatoes. It will also give excellent control of perennial ryegrass, wild oats and volunteer cereals. If the crop is under drought or temperature stress when sprayed, transient yellowing may occur. For this reason its use is not approved on seed crops since these symptoms could be confused with viral disease.
Grass and weeds have been under stress up to now and where silage is still some weeks away there is an opportunity to apply herbicide.

Grassland Weed Control – Cereal Fungicides

This has certainly been a very changeable week with wintery showers and night frosts. Many crops are under stress and care should be taken not to rush out and spray these where timing is not crucial. Manganese deficiency is now commonplace in many crops, symptoms showing more in Continuous cereal ground and ground recently limed. 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 as soon as symptoms are seen.

SPITFIRE is now in its second season, it contains two active ingredients, a high loading of the sulfonyl-urea (SU) florasulam, and fluroxypyr. It has a very wide spectrum of weeds controlled including chickweed, cleavers, black bindweed, charlock, knotgrass, mayweeds and volunteer rape, and an equally wide window for application in all cereal crops. It can be used from 3-leaf of the crop GS13 right up to GS45 in winter wheat and winter barley; up to GS39 in spring wheat and barley; and up to GS31 in winter and spring oats, winter rye and triticale. Wild oats will continue to emerge in later drilled winter crops for another few weeks yet, so delay application until certain that all have emerged. To avoid crop damage, do not spray any crop under stress. Note that performance of some wild oat/brome herbicides can be adversely affected by other herbicides used on the crop. To avoid these antagonisms, a minimum time interval must elapse between application of the BLW herbicide application and this application.

Disease Control

The new fungicides containing an SDHI (Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitors) component add very cost effective yield benefits to both wheat and barley. Bixafen (Bayer), boscalid (BASF) and isopyrazam (Syngenta) are longer lasting than other chemistry groups, providing enhanced disease control and extending the duration of protection by up to 2 weeks compared to triazoles. This season sees the launch of another new SDHI molecule from BASF, xemium. In contrast to the other SDHI’s xemium appears to exhibit very good curative as well as preventative activity. Because this chemistry is considered to be at high risk to fungicide resistance, so they must only be used in mixtures with triazoles.
All of the SDHI’s give excellent activity on Rusts and Net Blotch. Bixafen, available in mixture with prothioconazole as AVIATOR for wheat and SILTRA for barley is particularly strong on Septoria and Rhyncho. Boscalid is available in mixture with epoxiconazole as CHORD and approved for both wheat and barley. As well as being very strong on Septoria and Rhyncho, it is the strongest molecule on Eyespot and therefore most suited to T1. It is also very strong on Ramularia in barley at T2. Isopyrazam, in mixture with cyprodinil as BONTIMA for barley and with epoxiconazole as SEGURIS for wheat is particularly strong on rusts. None are particularly strong on Mildew or Fusarium.
Xemium will be available in co-formulation with epoxiconazole, marketed as ADEXAR. As well as being one of the strongest performers against Septoria, because of its curative activity it is also the strongest product when timings have been stretched and therefore kickback is required.

Potatoes

Maincrop potatoes are currently being planted into ideal soil conditions right across the province. There are two types of herbicidal activity;
Contact herbicides which are those that must come into direct contact with the leaf of the target weed and will control all weeds that are emerged at the time of application – known as post emergent activity (post-em) and residual herbicides which move into the soil and prevent germination of the target weed before it emerges – known as pre-em
have only the one mode of activity; i.e. a contact will have no effect on weeds not yet emerged, while most residuals will not control weeds already emerged. In addition the residuals need sufficient soil moisture to work properly and in dry conditions residuals will not perform well.
Shogun has a full recommendation for scutch control on ware potatoes. It will also give excellent control of perennial ryegrass, wild oats and volunteer cereals. If the crop is under drought or temperature stress when sprayed, transient yellowing may occur. For this reason its use is not approved on seed crops since these symptoms could be confused with viral disease.

Grassland

Weed infestations can impact significantly on the yield and quality of grass for both grazing and cutting with trial work performed over the last two years by Dow Agroscience producing some shocking statistics. To put into perspective some of the figures, control of docks can give an average yield increase of 2.66t of DM/HA, enough grass for a cow to produce 5470 litres of milk. At 28p a litre this converts to £1531.00.Farmers will almost always apply fertilizer to grass swards because they can see the benefits but if I was to tell you that 3 bags of CAN could produce 320kg grass DM/HA which could produce 706 litres of milk at a value of £197.00 compared to dock control producing over 2000kg grass DM/HA which could produce 4452 litres of milk at a value of £1246.00.Which gives the better return?
It is important to allow one days growth for each 2-3 units of nitrogen between application and cutting to achieve good quality feed. Failure to use up the fertiliser applied may result in poor fermentation due to high levels of non-protein nitrogen in the crop. Docks are the most damaging weed which infests Northern Ireland farms. Part of the reason for the success of docks is that they will germinate and grow in almost any situation, and can then multiply by seed production or from underground roots. Seeds can be spread by a variety of means such as wind, water, stock and machinery. In most grassland fields there are approximately 12.5 million dock seeds per hectare in the top 15cm of soil and these can remain viable for up to 80 years. This seed bank provides an enormous reserve for reinfestation and reinforces the message that weed control is an ongoing battle not a one-off measure. It is important to remember that grassland herbicides are only effective when grass and weeds are growing actively and should not be used when there is a risk of low night temperatures.
The ideal time to spray docks is when they are in full leaf at the rosette stage just before the flowering stalk appears. For effective root kill it is necessary to use translocated herbicides such as dicamba, fluroxypyr and triclopyr to allow sufficient time for them to move from the leaves down into the root system. This is usually 3-4 weeks. Examples of products, which contain dicamba, are Grassland herbicide, Foundation ,Mircam Plus and Dockmaster. Doxstar and Pastor contain both Fluroxypyr and triclopyr and are preferred on silage ground as they have little or no effect on the growth of grass.Triclopyr has a much wider weed spectrum and greater translocation than straight fluroxypyr and therefore there is greater efficacy and longevity achieved by mixing these two actives especially on docks. Forefront may be applied onto grazing ground giving excellent weed control with no effect on the grass. Forefront contains Fluroxypyr and aminopyralid. As well as controlling docks it will control chickweed, buttercup, dandelion, nettle and thistle.
Spot control of Nettles, Thistles and Docks can be achieved using Grazon 90 or Nushot.

Weed Control In Winter Cereals – Leatherjackets – Growth Regulator

The excellent weather conditions experienced over last weekend and into this week have allowed Land to dry out well and spring fieldwork is progressing well. Growth has been good this week and crops have greened up well where fertilizer has been applied. Both grass weeds and broad leaved weeds are appearing in crops which did not receive an autumn herbicide. Wheat crops are still showing low levels of disease whilst most winter barley crops have a fair bit of foliar disease on older leaves. Potato planting has begun in some parts of the province and early carrots have also been sown. Many grassland farmers were keen to spray swards for chickweed and docks but it is too soon yet as night frosts have been occurring and weeds have become hardy hence will not take in the chemical particularly well.

Cereals

Much of the later drilled winter cereal crop did not receive a residual herbicide. As temperatures rise clods will be broken down on both treated and untreated crops requiring a herbicide treatment. Those wheat crops not treated in the autumn can be treated with OTHELLO and BIOPOWER up to GS32 of the crop. Applications should be made when temperatures are good and both the crop and weeds are actively growing. OTHELLO will give good control on chickweed, pansy, speedwells, charlock, groundsel and most importantly annual meadow grass. SPITFIRE is a new herbicide from Dow containing two active ingredients, a high loading of the sulfonyl-urea (SU) florasulam, and fluroxypyr. It has a very wide spectrum of weeds controlled including chickweed, cleavers, black bindweed, charlock, knotgrass, mayweeds and volunteer rape, and an equally wide window for application in all cereal crops. It can be used from 3-leaf of the crop GS13 right up to GS45 in winter wheat and winter barley; up to GS39 in spring wheat and barley; and up to GS31 in winter and spring oats, winter rye and triticale. Wild oats will continue to emerge in later drilled winter crops for another few weeks yet, so delay application until certain that all have emerged. To avoid crop damage, do not spray any crop under stress. Note that performance of some wild oat/brome herbicides can be adversely affected by other herbicides used on the crop. To avoid these antagonisms, a minimum time interval must elapse between application of the BLW herbicide application and this application. ALLY MAX and SPITFIRE should be applied onto any winter barley crops not yet sprayed but this will not control any grass present.

Manganese deficiency is now commonplace in many crops, symptoms showing as growth gathers pace. 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 as soon as symptoms are seen.

Disease Control

In our climate maximising yield means controlling disease effectively. Getting timings right is absolutely essential; ‘fire-brigade’ control of disease is more costly and a lot less effective than well timed preventative control.  Except in very low disease pressure conditions, it is a false economy to skimp on disease control and get away with it – all independent work shows that increasing fungicide doses does also increase yield.

This season sees the launch of the new BASF fungicide ADEXAR which is a mixture of xemium technology and epoxiconazole. ADEXAR is very curative and has acropetal mobility within the leaf area. It is labeled for both wheat and barley. This joins a number of newly approved cereal fungicides containing a new family of chemistry known as SDHI’s.

Preparing For Spring Crops

The focus over the last couple of weeks has been on preparing ground for spring crops. Land intended for spring cereals should be sprayed off with glyphosate as ground conditions allow. Roundup Energy is still the best value for money in the glyphosate market with all its additional benefits over generics. Roundup Energy has faster uptake and greater consistency in a wider range of weather conditions. It is important to remember when comparing glyphosate prices the amount of active it contains, Roundup energy contains 450gm/l compared to 360gm/l in most other glyphosate.

The increase in temperature over the last week will encourage pests such as wireworm, slugs and leatherjackets to resume feeding and should be closely monitored. Surveys carried out recently show leatherjacket numbers are significantly higher than spring 2011.Pre ploughing treatments with Dursban or Cyren are more effective than those applied once any damage is under way in the spring-sown crop.

It is essential to soil test prior to planting any crop, whilst it may seem expensive it is money well spent.

Winter Barley & Winter Wheat Growth Regulation

There are two types of lodging; stem-base lodging and brackling. 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. Brackling is where the stem folds over part way up the plant, and occurs as a result of an inherent weakness of the variety, very dense canopies, and bursts of rapid growth.

Whilst CHLORMEQUAT (3C) will reduce the likelihood of brackling, it will have no effect on root growth; ADJUST on the other hand is active on both types of lodging when applied at the correct timing.

An application of the growth regulator often goes on with a T1 fungicide application sometime around 1st-2nd node, GS31-32. At this timing it primarily stiffens the stem by shortening the internodes, so reducing the likelihood of brackling. However when applied before the end of tillering, GS29, the growth regulator increases root growth also and so reduces stem-base lodging.

ADJUST will work right down to 1°C and is safe to the crop, particularly when applied in tank-mix with other pesticides. When applied early it also has a very significant effect on increasing tiller survival so improving yield potential. It is an excellent aid to managing more backward crops when applied at mid-tillering, GS22-24, helping these crops thicken out.

Drilling Spring Crops – Weed Control in Winter Crops – Forefront & Potatoes

The extremely wet conditions over winter have meant very little crop was sown and a very small percentage received an autumn herbicide. The time has now passed to control annual meadow grass in winter barley but BLWs should be controlled as soon as conditions allow. Once spring growth commences properly, contact herbicides give more reliable control, but their efficacy is critically linked to improving soil temperatures. Where grass weeds are a concern in winter wheat Hussar may be applied up to GS32, this will also give control of some broad leaved weeds but is weak on fumitory, fat hen and chickweed. A better alternative for winter wheat which has not yet been sprayed is Othello and Bio Power. Othello contains iodosulfuron and mesosulfuron. These actives are contact only and therefore need the grass to be completely emerged and growing actively, and are very effective on larger AMG. In addition they also have activity on a range of broad leaf weeds.
Leatherjacket numbers are much higher this spring than they have been for a few years. Where fields are looking poor and yellow or bare patches have appeared it is essential to inspect for leatherjackets. Damage is already becoming apparent in some established grass swards. With this evidence of high leatherjacket populations, spring cereals are also certain to be at risk especially those following a grass ley. As crops are most susceptible to damage at the seedling stage it is most important to monitor leatherjacket numbers from emergence onwards. In newly sown cereals the need for treatment is assessed by scratching along 30cm (12“) drill lengths to a depth of 5cm and searching for leatherjackets.

As soil temperatures rise, Nitrogen will quickly be needed, and a growth regulator may need applied soon after. Potash is an essential nutrient which affects both yield and quality of grain as well as other aspects of plant vigour and health. Cereal crops need at least as much, if not more, potash than any other nutrient including nitrogen. Potash is needed in such large amounts because it regulates water and nutrient movement in the plant.
The most notable disease in crops at present is Rhynchosporium in barley and low levels of septoria in wheat. Farmers often ask me what the total cost of production is for a particular crop and whilst you can give a rough guide, it is not an exact figure. There are many hidden costs which are never taken into account and I urge all growers to take the time and work out exactly what a crop costs to grow. Certainly conacre prices seem to have risen across Northern Ireland and availability of arable land is also down on last season.
Potato growers are now planning for the season ahead and there is a real need to assess the best means of weed control. I urge all potato growers to ensure when taking conacre to ask the question has aminopyralid been applied onto the land or has it been manured or slurried with product that has been treated with aminopyralid i.e. Forefront or Pharaoh.
Land intended for spring cereals should be sprayed off with glyphosate as soon as ground conditions allow. Roundup Energy is still the best value for money in the glyphosate market with all its additional benefits over generics. Roundup Energy has faster uptake and greater consistency in a wider range of weather conditions. It is important to remember when comparing glyphosate prices the amount of active it contains, Roundup energy contains 450gm/l compared to 360gm/l in most other glyphosate.

Kerb Granules on Hedgerows – Rodent Control

Welcome to the first crop crack of 2012. Growers should be making the best of this quieter time to assess the performance of last season’s crops and plan for the incoming season. There are still some crops yet to be harvested in what can only be described as a deplorable year. There has been very little drilling or spraying done to date but I have seen a few drills out this week taking a chance on some late wheat. Fields which are going to be cropped early should be identified and an up to date soil analysis carried out. Routine machinery maintenance should be carried out at this time of year to prevent unnecessary breakdowns during the busy season. All sprayers should be thoroughly checked to ensure all pipes and pumps are fully functional.

HEDGEROW CONTROL

Season long control of grasses and most broad-leaved weeds is possible by applying Kerb Granules at this time.Kerb is a pre- and post-emergence residual herbicide for the control of annual and perennial grasses and a wide range of other weeds in farm and commercial forestry, ornamental plantings and recreation areas.Propyzamid the active ingredient in Kerb works by inhibiting cell division, disrupting the growth process and leading to eventual death of the plant. Kerb can be applied to all soil types, therefore allowing its use in many areas where weed control is needed.Kerb is the ideal herbicide for forestry and woodland (including farm forestry), ornamental shrubberies and rose beds, hedges, fence lines and gravel pathways.Kerb requires soil moisture for root uptake to take place. KERB Granules are mobile in the soil profile and therefore the best results will be achieved when applying in cooler conditions, usually between October and February. If warm, dry conditions prevail after application then weed control may be reduced. Although KERB can be applied in all weather conditions, application on top of snow, or to severely frozen ground should be avoided if there is any risk of surface run-off.

VERMIN CONTROL

The cooler temperatures experienced recently have driven all vermin to take shelter wherever they could. Farm buildings should be checked and sealed to prevent access by rats and mice who will be seeking shelter. Make buildings as impenetrable as possible by sealing off possible entry points, and set traps to gauge whether any vermin have managed to already gain access to buildings.

STORM bait should be placed close to runs and holes where rats are active. If the bait is covered with boards or lengths of pipe it gives the rat a feeling of security when feeding and also protects the bait from the weather and hidden from other animals, children or livestock. Ideally use a specially designed bait box.

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