Crop Crack

Autumn Drilling Progressing Well

Soil conditions are excellent for cultivation at the moment, and there is a lot of field work going on, mainly grass reseeding , but also the drilling of cereals. With a longer gap than usual between harvesting and drilling autumn crops, some stale seedbed cultivations have been carried out, to assist control of brome and other problematic grass weeds.

Be aware though, early drilling of crops brings its own problems. When temperatures remain mild, aphids numbers remain high and will quickly move into new crops as these emerge, therefore increasing the likelihood of BYDV infection in all emerged winter crops. Early drilling also increases the likelihood of disease infection. Lush crops of winter barley going into the winter are much more susceptible to Rhyncho and Mildew, as was prevalent last winter. Early drilling of winter wheat in particular significantly increases the likelihood of Take-all and an appropriate Take-all seed treatment should be applied as a matter of course. Winter oats are particularly susceptible to Mildew.

Annual meadow grass and broad leaved weeds

Annual meadow-grass (AMG) continues to be the most problematic weed in autumn cereals. If not properly controlled, this weed grass will continue to grow throughout most of the winter and once well tillered is impossible to control effectively. Flufenacet, available in various mixes, is the principle active in autumn herbicide programmes to control AMG, giving pre and post emergent activity of the weed grass. It has limited broad-leaved weed activity but is very effective on a wide range of other grass weeds, including all species of brome. Whilst HAMLET and OTHELLO are effective alternatives to flufenacet for controlling AMG in winter wheat, in the early spring, there are no such options for barley, rye or oats. The key to effective control in winter barley and rye is to apply flufenacet (not oats) before or soon after emergence of the crop, critically before the AMG has begun to tiller. Only when soil temperatures have dropped, pre-emergence of the crop is very effective and with GPS technology this is an option.

Other actives used at this time include pendimethalin (PDM) and diflufenican (DFF). PDM is also active on AMG but pre-emergent only. It is relatively insoluble and so persists for an extended period in the soil. PDM also has a wide broad leaved weed (BLW) pre-em spectrum, including chickweed and fumitory, but not groundsel. DFF is a residual with both pre and post emergent activity. It has no AMG activity but has a wide spectrum of BLWs including large chickweed and field pansy, but no activity on fumitory or groundsel.

FMC (formerly Headland) have introduced a new broad spectrum autumn herbicide called NUCLEUS, containing flufenacet and DFF. Whilst the grams of both actives are the same as LIBERATOR and therefore performs in an identical way in the field, NUCLEUS has a broader label with full approval for use on winter rye and triticale, alongside winter wheat and barley.

The persistency of any herbicide product that has residual activity is directly linked to soil temperature – the lower the temperature the longer the duration of its persistency. As soils cool in the coming weeks and months, product performance will improve the longer application is delayed into the winter.

Soil acting herbicides also require adequate soil moisture to work, but a persistently wet winter will also adversely affect performance, the more soluble actives being leached out of the soil, before the crop canopy has sufficiently covered the soil surface to prevent a late weed infestation reoccurring.

Manganese Deficiency

In known deficient soils, manganese should be applied during November. Treatment of the condition before deficiency symptoms are seen will mean stronger healthier plants going through to spring. A follow-up treatment should also be applied in the early spring.



Crops Ripening Very Fast

The drought during July has caused rapid senescence on many winter wheat and spring barley crops. A fair acreage of winter wheat crops have been harvested for whole crop. In order to ensure harvested crops are kept free from pests,stores need to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure any debris that may be harbouring pests is removed.Pests arise from within the store and not from harvested grain. Reldan can be applied to empty stores to combat grain store pests.

Autumn planning

The recent rainfall will bring slugs back up onto the soil surface and there will certainly be a need to assess numbers for autumn planting. An easy way to trap is to use dry food such as breakfast cereal (muesli) or similar and place a tablespoon under a slate or fertiliser bag. Traps should be checked early in the morning approximately two days after being placed in the field. Slugs don’t like fine firm seedbeds so good cultivation can reduce the risk of damage as can deeper sowing. There are also some cereal seed treatments which can protect seed hollowing by slugs but damage to shoots remain a threat.BYDV protection can be given in seed treatment as well as takeall and autumn foliar diseases.


The risk of blight remains high with great variations in particular areas due to localised showers. To try and keep crops free from blight where pressure is severe requires short intervals appropriate for high risk and also the use of fungicide products with curative activity. Fungicides with good rainfastness will be very beneficial given the current showery conditions , especially because it’s been difficult to accurately predict the timing and location of showers.


Propionic Acid

Propionic acid has an energy value of 1.5 times that of barley so as well as preserving the grain it also adds to its energy value. With Propionic treatment, harvesting can take place when there is still surface dampness on the grain, dew or rain. Harvesting can start earlier in the morning or after rain and continue later at night, giving a quicker more flexible harvest, which leaves extra time for autumn cultivations. By harvesting before grain is fully ‘ripe’ a higher yield is also obtained, reduced shedding losses may save 200kg per hectare.

Natural vitamin E levels in moist grain, whether treated or not, are destroyed during storage. When moist grain forms a major part of the diet a mineral/vitamin supplement high in vitamin E should be used.

Treated grain can be stored simply on a dry floor. It should not be stored with untreated grain. Check MC and auger rate regularly.


Dry Weather takes Toll On Crops & Grass

I think it would be fair to say conditions over the last couple of weeks make farming a much more pleasant occupation. Crops have moved rapidly through the growth stages and consideration should now be given to pre harvest treatments of glyphosate. Winter wheat and spring barley crops have been badly affected with dry conditions with many crops senescing prematurely. The continued warm weather has encouraged high populations of aphid in all crops but it is important to note that unless absolutely necessary an insecticide should not be applied as bees are very active at present. The main period of egg laying by the first generation of carrot fly is now over. Second generation flies will appear from early august and foliar insecticide sprays targeting the adult will be needed at that time. Much of the winter barley has now been harvested with respectable yields given the dry conditions.


Due to the considerable amount of new growth being produced at present, it is essential the product being used is fully systemic to properly protect the new leaves being put on between applications. Later planted crops are at higher risk as they produce more new growth between applications than earlier planted crops, at a time when the level of inoculum in the air is progressively increasing. Of the fully systemic fungicides, only those based on propamocarb appear to effectively control the A2-13 genotype. INFINITO containing propamocarb and fluopicolide controls all strains of blight, with no resistant genotypes found to date. Although a translaminar product, Syngenta have shown that REVUS also gives very good protection of new growth, and offers an alternative mode of activity to propamocarb.

As the crop canopy closes across the drills, the crop starts to initiate tubers. From this point on these daughter tubers are vulnerable to infection, so fungicide selection must also consider introducing tuber blight control, spread by zoospores being washed off any infected leaves or stems. During the main canopy development phase the rate of new growth is extremely rapid. This places a huge uptake demand on the uptake of all nutrients, and in conditions of such rapid growth any nutrient that is limited in availability will suppress haulm growth, and as tuber initiation begins, tell the plant to form fewer tubers also. Manganese, sulphur and magnesium are three of the potentially most limiting trace elements, and timely application of these nutrients in an immediately available foliar formulation will offset this yield limiting effect.

Make sure nozzle type used is correct to ensure sprayer pressure, droplet size and water volume applied are as per the label; these factors are as important as product choice in terms of achieving good coverage of the foliage. Inspect and calibrate nozzles regularly to maintain performance. Trials have shown that fitting angled nozzles alternating to face forwards & backwards along the boom gives better coverage of the plant and significantly reduces drift.

Pre Harvest Glyphosate

With the recent sunshine hastening the ripening of cereal crops,thoughts will now turn to grain quality, moisture levels, and ease of harvesting. This year in particular grasses and other weeds are a real problem in many fields. Pre harvest application of glyphosate is an essential tool to improve the efficiency of harvesting, giving a range of benefits. grain moisture, faster harvesting and sooner baling of straw.

Note however, do not use glyphosate on any crops where seed may be saved for re-sowing.

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.

With a wide range of glyphosate products available, which offers the best performance in the field, and best value for money? First off, it is not the price per drum that should be compared. With different formulation types having different strengths of active per litre and therefore different rates of use, it is the price per acre treated that should be compared, and what level of performance is being obtained from each. Glyphosate itself is not very soluble therefore it depends very much on the salts and wetter’s to enhance its performance. Tallow amine products de-wax the leaf surface and cause cell damage, whereas the ROUNDUP ENERGY wetter does not damage the leaf surface, so the uptake of glyphosate into the leaf is much more effective than with the ETA product, and the level of long-term kill achieved from ENERGY is significantly greater.

The potassium salt in Roundup Energy is also taken up significantly faster than the isopropylamine salt; as a result ENERGY is rainfast within 1 hour of application and cultivation can commence as soon as 2 days after application whereas the IPA glyphosate products need a minimum of 6 hours to be rainfast and 5 days minimum before cultivating.

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.



As much of the grassland acreage went untreated for weeds prior to both first and second cut it is important to inspect fields intended for cutting and grazing in order to allow the spray interval for stock rotation.

Docks are the most damaging weed which infest our grassland farms. Over the last number of years Forefront has been the outstanding product for controlling docks in Northern Ireland. In addition to docks it will also control nettles, thistles, buttercups, ragwort and chickweed giving a complete clean-up in your fields.

With many fields showing the effects of the last couple of wet years, rushes have become a major issue on farm. Rushes are relatively easy and inexpensive to control. Spray rushes when they are green and actively growing, and always add a wetter/sticker(e.g. Activator) to enhance uptake into the plant.  Due to the shape of the rush, there is always potential for spray run-off, which the wetter will help to prevent.  The most popular products for controlling rushes in Northern Ireland include Agritox and MCPA 500.

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Recent Crop Crack

  • Autumn Drilling Progressing Well

    Soil conditions are excellent for cultivation at the moment, and there is a lot of field work going on, mainly grass reseeding , but also the drilling of cereals.…

  • Crops Ripening Very Fast

    The drought during July has caused rapid senescence on many winter wheat and spring barley crops. A fair acreage of winter wheat crops have been harvested for whole crop.…

  • Dry Weather takes Toll On Crops & Grass

    I think it would be fair to say conditions over the last couple of weeks make farming a much more pleasant occupation. Crops have moved rapidly through the growth…

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