Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tough spring leads to shorter growing season

April 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Growers deserve some better weather to complete fieldwork as crops progress, writes Richard Overthrow.

Many of us lost a whole month of the spring campaign with the bad weather in March and April provided scant opportunity to catch up. Hopefully spring field work is now well under way.

In winter wheat, T1 fungicides should be applied by now though many went on without a preceding T0, such were the consequences of the difficult spring.

The late spring has led to a shorter growing season and, like last year, key growth stages arriving in close formation. This should slow down now since later growth stages are more predictable. Flag leaf emergence in wheat is likely to be close to the normal date for your farm, and fungicide treatment should be fairly robust even if the preceding spray interval was short.

Nitrogen application

Irrespective of earlier timings any remaining nitrogen applications on wheat should be completed as soon as possible, apart from late season grain protein doses; these will be due around flag leaf emergence if soil-applied nitrogen is used, or delayed until after flowering if a foliar urea spray is planned.

There may also be some final nitrogen doses to be applied to oat crops, as many growers like to delay in order to get as good an idea as possible of lodging risk and hence final N total.

Winter wheat and barley should be assessed for a late season growth regulator requirement. Spring rainfall and the extent of straw growth is the main driver and a late start to spring development may lead to an over-extension of internodes.

Early-developing wheat crops may reach ‘boots splitting’ at the end of the month at which point susceptible varieties should be checked for wheat blossom midge. The common use of resistant varieties, particularly the dominance of Skyfall in the Group 1 varieties, means not everyone need worry about it but there are still susceptible crops where Hagberg is important and these should still be monitored at the critical stage.

The final (T2) fungicides on winter barley will be applied about now, typically around awns emergence, with any late growth regulators usually applied in a tank mix.

Sclerotinia

Oilseed rape crops will have been treated at flowering for sclerotinia, but where flowering has been prolonged or the first treatment applied early a second treatment may be necessary, though this would only be a top-up and could be a cheaper option than the first.

Oilseed rape may also need monitoring for seed weevil and pod midge. Any treatments can often be mixed with later sclerotinia fungicides but remember to avoid mixing pyrethroids with triazole fungicides. Sprays are usually dictated by weevil numbers, but if these are found check the infestation is not just on headlands but across the field, before deciding to treat.

Winter bean crops will soon be flowering and should receive their first fungicide, as well as being monitored for bruchid beetle, which usually moves into crops from early pod set.

First fungicide

Spring wheat and barley crops usually receive their first fungicide this month, around GS30-31. As last season there is a range of development stages in these crops as many were sown late. However development in these later sowings should be rapid enough that they reach this stage soon. Short intervals between T1 and T2 in both crops mean that doses of fungicides need not be very high.

Spring rape and linseed crops may still be susceptible to flea beetle damage. Like a lot of spring crops in general many were sown recently, when soils finally dried out and may be establishing slowly making them particularly susceptible to these pests.

Spring wheat and barley crops usually receive their first fungicide this month, around GS30-31 though any sown in mid-April may only need one treatment as a result of the shorter growing season, in which case this treatment should be delayed a little.

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

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