Monday, May 20, 2019

Home straight beckons for combinable crops

May 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Unsettled weather means a touch-and-go season is set to continue right up until harvest, writes Richard Overthrow.

Local growers who have muddled through to this stage of the season probably feel slightly relieved but still have little idea of the yield potential of any crop.

Most winter crops weathered the storms, freezes, heat waves and deluges fairly well and there are few particularly poor crops but as said we cannot know what yield has built up inside. Many late sown spring cereals also emerged well but will still have a shortened growing season so yield potential will be limited.

Crop protection

At this stage, there may still be ear spray fungicides to be applied to wheat. Clearly we cannot rule out a wet end to the season and ear disease can knock several tonnes off the yield. Hence these are important for fusarium and mycotoxin control but also top-up flag leaf protection and help to keep it healthy until the end of grain fill.

Quality wheats (Groups 1-3) will need to be assessed for fusarium and mycotoxin risk but feed wheat crops, many of which end up in human consumption markets, can also develop these ear diseases, to significant levels in wet summers.

Most crops will therefore need a fusarium-timing T3 at early flowering (GS61-65) of an appropriate triazole – such as tebuconazole, prothioconazole or metconazole. Brown rust can develop late in this region and may also be a reason for a T3, or even later, fungicide.

Later developing wheat crops may still be at risk from blossom midge, so this should be monitored until flowering starts. If warm dry weather prevails then aphids may move onto cereal ears.


Delayed application or uptake of nitrogen means some milling wheat crops may have sufficient extra nitrogen to boost grain protein. If planning to use foliar urea sprays for this, remember that applications can scorch and should be made post-flowering, when the foliage has aged a little and is therefore less ‘soft’, and ideally in the early morning or late evening.

Nitrogen programmes for winter oilseed rape were also difficult to carry out and there may be crops which are considered to have had insufficient nitrogen to date. It is in these situations that post-flowering foliar nitrogen, targeting the pods, can give a benefit as an efficient late delivery system.

Early sown (pre-mid April) spring barley crops will be due a second fungicide at flag leaf-awns emergence, but with many crops sown later than this there may only be time for one fungicide on these, given the low disease pressure and rapid development typical of later sowings.

Winter oats

The second fungicide in winter oats (around panicle emergence) is usually routine and rust-orientated. Spring oat crops usually require just one fungicide, around GS32.

Winter bean crops have hopefully started their fungicide programmes but bean rust can develop in dry weather and chocolate spot in the wet so check for these and treat appropriately as a T2 treatment. Spring beans often need only one spray but this should cover both diseases if further treatment isn’t planned.

Spring oilseed rape should be checked regularly for pollen beetle from stem extension onwards: these pests can invade spring rape crops before the green bud stage and are far more damaging than in winter crops.

Pea crops should be checked for pests, pea aphid and thrips in particular can invade at this time of year. Crops should also receive a fungicide at the late flowering pod set stage, though treating before any lodging occurs is the important timing consideration.

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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