Crop Crack

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.


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.


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.


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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