Monday, August 19, 2019

Wet weather could still lead to decent yields

April 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Growers will be hoping better weather allows spring drilled crops to prosper, says Richard Overthrow.

Two years ago, a cold, wet start to spring delayed drilling until well into April for many growers. Fortunately a benign late spring and summer allowed crops to recover – and fairly respectable yields followed.

This year we could be testing the system in that way once again. March certainly came in like a lion and put paid to any plans for early field work.

Hopefully, early nitrogen and sulphur applications were completed. Even if little spring drilling was achieved, it is not too late – even now for cereals and pulses. Spring oilseeds prefer to be sown in April anyway.

As far as late spring cereal drilling is concerned, the only adjustments necessary would be a slight upward tweak in seed rate and delivery of most if not all of the nitrogen at or very soon after sowing.


This month should see completion of early fungicides and growth regulators going onto winter wheat and barley. In early developing wheats, leaf 4 emergence (T0) may arrive in late March but for most crops it will be an early April timing. Around three weeks later, leaf 3 is likely to be emerging and T1 fungicides will be due.

In this area, T0 sprays for wheat should be based on chlorothalonil with triazole. The chlorothalonil will handle septoria but there are few crops at zero risk of yellow rust – hence the need for a triazole or strobilurin as well.

In most cases, the wheat leaf 3 (T1) fungicide should be SDHI-based. But older chemistry such as triazole plus chlorothalonil can be considered with a resistant variety, later drilling into November and a relaxed attitude to risk.

Where eyespot is targeted, Tracker is still very effective. But it will need support from other actives if septoria pressure is high.

In winter barley, the T1 is usually timed around GS31, which is typically early April. SDHI-based products are the standard now for this crop with higher doses at this timing than at T2 since the contribution to yield from the lower leaves is greater than in wheat.

Growth regulators, in the form of chlormequat or trinexapac products, will also be due on winter oat crops this month, usually between GS31 and 32.


Irrespective of early nitrogen treatments, nitrogen programmes on winter wheat and barley should be completed this month. Depending on their rate of development, later sown wheat crops could wait until early May. Any late doses for protein in wheat won’t be needed until next month.

Final nitrogen applications still due on oilseed rape crops should be applied as soon as possible this month. Remaining doses need to go on before soils dry up and affect uptake as crops will be growing rapidly and need nutrients to be available.

Once pods form, then liquid foliar nitrogen can be applied to top up the nitrogen total if you feel the crop will still be short of nitrogen.

Oilseed rape crops will be flowering soon and late season fungicides will be necessary. We haven’t suffered any serious sclerotinia outbreaks for some time now but this fungicide timing should still be considered routine, applied early-mid flower.

Second sprays following up at late flowering should only be considered where disease pressure is known to be high. This can be very difficult to predict with sclerotinia but should be based on cropping history and past experience.

Spring cereal crops again involved a wide range of sowing dates this year. But earlier sowings may be ready for their first fungicides at the end of the month (GS30-31). Irrespective of sowing date the crop does not respond to high input at this timing so don’t spend too much.

Any remaining nitrogen applications on spring cereals should be made soon, again before a possible drought threatens to compromise uptake.

Richard Overthrow is a regional agronomist with NIAB TAG, the UK’s largest independent agronomy organisation with several research centres in East Anglia. For more details, call 01223 342495.

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