The conditions a couple of weeks ago allowed some winter drilling to commence. Unfortunately the turn in the weather has been stop start with herbicide application made very difficult. The only time to control grass weeds in winter barley is the autumn and so it is important to avail of any spray opportunity. Early drilling of winter wheat dramatically increases the risk of take-all following continuous cereals. Therefore a seed treatment is advisable. BYDV is a disease carried by aphids and passed into the crop when they feed on the young plants as they emerge through the ground. Once infected the disease cannot be controlled. Grassy stubbles and volunteer cereal plants act as host plants for aphids. The earlier the crop is drilled, the greater is the risk of infection as the seedling plants are emerging at a time when aphid numbers are high and actively feeding. As the seed treatment REDIGO DETER is no longer available an application of Sumi-Alpha should be applied from the two leaf stage of the crop. Product persistency is very dependent on temperature, increasing as temperatures fall. Applications made whilst temperature remain mild are broken down in 2-3 weeks and therefore most crops will require further applications until aphid feeding ceases as a result of cooler weather.
Slugs have thrived throughout the damp summer and damage has already been seen in some oilseed rape crops. All autumn drilled fields should be monitored closely for damage. Loose unconsolidated seedbeds are more prone to damage as slugs can move more easily as moisture conditions dictate. IROXX ferric phosphate slug pellets which have no water issues may be applied at the first sign of damage.
The key to good herbicide control is early timing, before or soon after emergence of the crop. Residual herbicide product persistency depends very much on damp soils and cooler temperatures. Annual meadow grass is the main target weed in NI as this weed is the most damaging in all cereal crops. Flufenacet is the principle active in autumn herbicide programmes to control AMG giving pre and post-em activity on grass weeds. Flufenacet is available in mixtures such as CRYSTAL and NUCLEUS. Nucleus which was launched in 2018, is a combination of flufenacet and diflufenican, providing broad spectrum weed control in a very cost effective package. Complete control of autumn emerging weeds including annual meadow grass can be achieved for as little as £13.00 /acre. Crystal which contains pendimethalin and flufenacetgives improved control of brome species in wheat and barley but groundsel in particular will still need to be treated in the spring.