South: Pollen beetle ravages oilseed rape - Farmers Weekly

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South: Pollen beetle ravages oilseed rape

Forward oilseed rape crops are starting to flower, but any crop still at tight green bud is being attacked by pollen beetle – at their highest levels for a decade. These crops are at a high risk from pod distortion and are a  priority for spraying with a pyrethroid when windy conditions relent. Weed control has been good and control of resistant blackgrass with propyzamide has been excellent.

Barley is looking much better this season. Recent winters have left the crop looking very pale and yellow but this season has seen a change and green crops are the norm. A plant growth regulator and fungicide are now ready for application at the T1 stage of the crop. Disease levels have been low but mildew can be found on the thickest crops.

Wheat growth has been steady but now with nitrogen and warmth, crops are starting to grow rapidly. Prioritising spraying has been difficult, but grassweed control has been at the top of most work lists.

Where this has been achieved a follow up treatment for T0 and a plant growth regulator has been applied. Disease levels remain low and high septoria tritici levels have relented in the dryer weather.

Spring bean drilling has now finished and early drillings are just emerging, with shoots already showing signs of pea and been weevil notching. Monitoring of these crops is neccesary as they may need a pyrethroid spray soon.

Crop Watch – South

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18 July 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod HunnisetEverything has turned very rapidly over the last few days and the countryside has turned a definite shade of brown.

Many people have started barley already and I was with somebody last Friday (14 July) whose Pict was coming in at about 9.5 t/ha. Let’s hope this is a good omen.

Winter crops went in under very good conditions. We had enough rain for residual herbicides to work very well. We then went into the coldest, driest winter for many years that gave tremendous persistence to autumn herbicides. Well structured soils meant crops put down very good rooting systems.

In the south of England, throughout the season, we have had rain coming along just in time to save winter crops on all but the most drought susceptible soils.

Twenty days of rain in May tested many fungicide strategies but those which had included a T0 spray ( and therefore a later T1) proved to be a worthwhile investment. If there was a gap of more than 3 weeks between T1 and T2 septoria leapt in with surprising voracity.

Probably the biggest surprise was how much came into Robigus; it will continue to be a major variety for me but I will no longer think of it as a low septoria variety.

I went crop judging last week and saw very few wheat crops that had no eyespot; the worst I’ve seen for many years if ever. However, there weren’t many whiteheads and very little stem-base lodging and it just demonstrates how unpredictable this disease can be.

Tracker (epoxiconazole + boscalid), Proline (prothioconazole) and Opus (epoxiconazole)/ Flexity (metrafenone) mixes all appear to have reduced the incidence significantly.

Many oilseed rape crops will be started this week but some Expert will not be ready until well into August; however for me that is not a reason not to continue to grow it.

I feel there’s a lot of yield out there. Let’s hope that statement is not my biggest mistake of the season. Having had enough rain last weekend to green up my lawn I’d be happy now if we went into a long, long dry spell.


11 July 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookWinter wheat crops are well into grain fill and have been developing very rapidly. The recent hot weather was too much for some second wheat crops and for light areas and compacted areas of fields.

However, generally crops are looking very well with good grain filling. Cool weather to keep grain filling going and a little more rain will allow good yields to be achieved.

Winter oilseed rape crops have been desiccated and are just two weeks from harvest. The decision as to whether or not harvest has not been easy and has often been based on farmer preference.

Crops have been very even in ripening and some leaning means that there will be some yield loss from driving a sprayer through the crop. Some growers have therefore decided to be patient, but the majority have decided to desiccate as this is likely to result in lower moisture content at harvest.

Thus, the cost of spraying and losses are weighed up against the drying costs and a slower harvest and the cost of diesel for drying is the largest factor.

Winter oats have remained clean with no second fungicide having been needed. The hot weather was too much for crops on the lightest land were crops began to turn, but generally crops are looking very good.

Linseed crops have been flowering in dry conditions and no fungicide can be justified yet but we will continue to watch the weather. Bean rust has begun to come into some spring bean crops and hence second fungicide will be applied.


3 July 2007

Jos Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
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joss wood thumbWith the current intense temperatures, spring crops are showing signs of stress, but fortunately ear fill in winter wheat is progressing nicely and hopefully specific weights should be good.

Where a good ‘programme’ of trace elements has been used with high levels of sulphur, plants are generally greener and healthier and have greater flag leaf area – yield potential should be higher.

Oilseed rape is beginning to ripen fast and with greater apparent levels of botrytis (despite comprehensive fungicide programmes), I expect yields to suffer.

Spring beans are looking good with good pod set, especially on the variety Fuego, where with very little fungicide, levels of downy mildew are extremely low and there is also low damage from bruchid beetle.

Spring barley is looking well, but one wonders what effect this intense heat will ultimately have on specific weights- so important for malting samples.

Conversely, spring oats seem to be thriving and with such low input costs and future contracted prices of around £76/tonne, they could be worthy of greater consideration as a future break crop.


27 June 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
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James ShortMilling premiums are dependable on achieving 13% protein – applying foliar urea + sulphur when the grain is milky ripe has consistently increased protein levels. Yield potential and expected premium should be considered when making the decision to treat or not.

Disease levels are high in untreated variety plots, with rusts, septoria and mildew present in susceptible varieties. The importance of product choice, timing and dose rate is clearly visible in many trials.

Now is a good time to evaluate weed control programmes in cereal crops. Grass weeds continue to be a major challenge in minimum tillage and early-drilled cereal crops. Be warned, combines and balers can unknowingly spread grass weeds around the farm!

Linseed crops are flowering – crops with good yield potential benefit from a Folicur (tebuconazole) application at early pod set for disease control and growth regulatory effects.

Oilseed rape crops are turning colour and I expect the first glyphosate applications will be made in early July – three weeks before harvest.

However, only apply glyphosate when the crop is at the correct growth stage. Yield loss, low oil content and red seed is the result of desiccating crops prematurely!


20 June 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod HunnisetWe are coming to the end of what has been a pretty frenetic season. Wheat crops took off very late and then came into ear a week earlier than normal, with two weeks of rain when flag leaf sprays should have been going on.

Consequently many crops had a flag leaf / ear-wash combined and fortunately most crops don’t seem to be suffering for it.

Generally disease levels in wheat have been lower than they have been for a few years with most septoria being below leaf four or five. Crops that had a T0 spray look visibly cleaner but whether it will translate into a yield response or not, I don’t know.

I have never known a year with fewer oversprays for wild oats in wheat and I’ve still got the odd field that has had no herbicides since the autumn.

Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl) has done a very good job on blackgrass but I have been disappointed with the amount of ryegrass that has escaped the spring treatment. I think it was the cold dry conditions rather than resistance but I will get some tested anyway.

Conversely I have been thrilled with the job Axial (pinoxaden) has done on wild oats in barley and ryegrass in wheat. Unless the price of Grasp (tralkoxydim) comes down to less than half of what it has been I can’t see any point in using it again.

Winter oilseed rape will soon be needing recommendations for desiccation with glyphosate. Two things to remember – do not go in too early with the spray and do not go in too early with the combine.

Lioness has grown to about ten feet tall and seems to be oblivious to any growth regulator fungicides we have thrown at it so it’s promptly fallen over. Unless it yields spectacularly, given the added problems of possible magnesium deficiency, I probably will not be recommending people grow it next year.


13 June 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookAlmost all winter wheat crops are flowering so the threat of orange blossom midge damage has passed. Very few crops needed to be sprayed for midge as they have emerged too late and in low numbers.

T3 fungicides have been applied to crops where the T2 fungicides were sprayed before ears were fully emerged. The delayed T2 sprays, despite increased doses, have allowed occasional lesions of septoria onto flag leaves when the gap between T1 and T2 was stretched to five weeks.

However, generally disease pressure remains low and adequate protection has been applied.

Winter oats are at ear emergence so final decisions on fungicides are being made. First fungicides were at robust rates and with no disease present we expect our first fungicides to be able to hold on.

Spring barley crops have had second fungicides where more than three weeks have elapsed since the first. Crops with very much delayed first fungicides are showing high levels of rhynchosporium.

Winter and spring beans are now flowering and the first lesions of chocolate spot have been seen, so fungicides have been applied and the most forward crops which showed disease very early have been planned for a second treatment.

Maize crops are showing good growth as warm weather allows quick recovery following the earlier cold wet conditions.


6 June 2006

Jos Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
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joss wood thumbThe long awaited wet weather was welcome, but caused a delay in the winter wheat
T2 fungicide timing. Thank goodness for T0 “insurance” taking pressure off the situation.

As a result of the delay, triazole rates were increased at T2, which should mean that most varieties (except milling) should not require a T3 “ear wash”.

Mildew is present in some hot spots, where additional action has been taken.

Final oilseed rape fungicides were also delayed in many cases, but fortunately disease pressure has been low. Several crops have received a urea/ trace element mix recommended by Omex, in an attempt to prolong growth and increase pod fill.

The company claims an average yield increase of 0.88t/ha, but only time will tell!

Spring Barleys are looking promising after a slow start, although delayed fungicide due to the intense rain increased the pressure from rhynchosporium.

Pea and Bean crops are flourishing in this current warm spell, hailed by the arrival of the first pea aphid.

Maize has emerged, but is looking very “yellow” and stressed. The addition of micronutrients is planned to aid recovery.


30 May 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
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James ShortWith key growth stage 39 fungicides and late growth regulator applications delayed by poor weather, May was a challenging month for most arable farmers!

I would advise a T3 ear fungicide for wheat varieties with milling premium potential or where fungicide applications were compromised due to the continuous wet weather.

Septoria is a real threat to susceptible varieties if triazole doses were inadequate at GS 39. The benefits of strobilurin fungicides at T3 are well proven and should be tank mixed with an appropriate dose of triazole depending on the target diseases.

Early ear emergence coincides with the risk of Orange Wheat Blossom Midge (OWBM). Certain areas have become hot spots, with risk depending on previous history of the pest, susceptible varieties and weather conditions favouring a significant hatch at ear emergence.

Best advice is to use pheromone / sticky traps and regular field walking at dusk when crops are approaching ear emergence. Only apply insecticides if the threshold levels are reached.

Weeds continue to grow rapidly in spring drilled crops and herbicides should be applied before the crop growth stage cut off point for application. There is more flexibility for timing grass weed herbicides in break crops at later growth stages.


23 May 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod HunnisetOne month ago I wrote saying that some crops were up to 3 weeks behind where they normally are for the time of year. Now we’ve got some wheat crops breaking into ear a week earlier than would be expected.

Disease levels are generally very low. I saw some Gladiator and Robigus last week that had clean leaves right down to leaf six and seven. As they were well into booting they will have a flag leaf/ear emergence spray combined, cutting out a pass and saving a bit on fungicide cost.

Claire will probably get the same treatment but Malacca and Solstice will have separate sprays.

There are a few crops that have had no herbicide overspray since their autumn herbicide. That doesn’t happen very often!

Winter barley has now been put to bed having had its awn spray. Winter oilseed rape has had its mid–flowering fungicide with some having had a weevil spray included. Some tractor drivers have reported very high numbers of weevil collected on radiator grills – quite how scientific an assessment that is I wouldn’t know.

Spring beans are just beginning to grow away from pea and bean weevil and will soon need a first petal fall fungicide. I’m probably going to use Folicur (tebuconazole)/ chlorothalonil first time round.

Flea beetle damage in linseed this year has been the worst I’ve seen for many years, even with Chinook (beta-cyfluthrin + imidacloprid) dressed seed. Most is growing away and will be ok to spray with a broad leaved weed herbicide.

Maize is coming through nicely and is welcoming the recent rain. Having had nearly 40mm of rain over the last 48 hrs and at least 12mm every week for the previous three weeks I do find constant banging on about drought rather tiresome.


16 May 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookAll winter wheat is at flag leaf fully emerged and T2 fungicides should be applied as soon as possible if not already done.

This season there has been a short gap between T1 and T2 but this should not mean T2 sprays are delayed as this would put the most important leaves at risk.

It will mean that leaves two and three should be better protected, so rates may be reduced a little as long foliar protection is topped up at ear emergence, a couple of weeks after.

Septoria is present in all crops on the lower leaves but many of these are held high in the canopy allowing spread of the disease by leaves rubbing together in damp conditions. Mildew susceptible varieties (e.g. Solstice, Claire) are having a specific protectant added.

Winter barley T2 sprays have been applied to the awns and to top up the foliar protection, although disease levels are low except where first fungicides were late.

Winter oats are growing well and receiving chlormequat at growth stage 32, second node, where contracts allow. Fungicides have been added to protect against Crown rust and mildew.

Oilseed rape crops have received their mid-flowering fungicides to protect against alternaria, which can be devastating – sclerotinia takes second place in the Southwest. Around half the crops needed an insecticide for seed weevil, as numbers exceeded the one weevil per plant threshold.

Spring barley fungicides have been applied but disease levels are very low.
Linseed and spring oilseed rape crops are establishing well and generally growing away from the flea beetle attacks but further treatments may be needed.

Chocolate Spot is present in most winter bean crops so as they reach flowering the first fungicide treatments, azoxystrobin plus chlorothalonil, are being applied. Weevil notchings have been seen in spring crops and repeat treatments have been needed in some cases.


9 May 2006

Jos Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
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joss wood thumbThe long awaited rain will give a well timed boost to all crops, especially spring-sown cereals which were beginning to struggle.

Winter wheat T1 fungicides were finally completed last week, so will be well protected from this Septoria tritici “Splash” event, although it must be said that wheats are probably as clean from disease as I have ever seen at this time of year.

Winter barleys have shown little disease and recent fungicide / growth regulator programmes should protect them through to harvest.

Cleavers have been rampant – I’ve never seen such rapid growth, offering a good target for Starane (fluroxypyr)-type products at the T1 timing.

Winter Oats are showing low levels of mildew at the base of the crop, and so far no sign of Crown Rust, even on the Isle of Wight where it is nearly always a problem.

Fungicide programmes have largely centred around a Talius (proquinazid)/ Alto (cyproconazole) type mix, largely as a preventative measure, together with CCC/ Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl) growth regulator.

Emergence of spring beans and peas has been excellent, with the Centium (clomazone) + Battalion (terbuthylazine + terbutryn) pre-em doing a good job so far. Damage from pea & bean weevil has been virtually non existent – probably the least damage I have ever seen.

Winter oilseed rape crops are showing very little disease, but with the rain, the risk of Botrytis is greatly increased so appropriate control measures will be taken in next 7-10 days to protect from this and sclerotinia.


2 May 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
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James ShortOilseed rape crops have raced through growth stages and are now at mid-flower in forward crops.

Sclerotinia and Alternaria are the key diseases controlled by mid flowering fungicides. The decision to spray will depend mainly on prevailing weather and rotation but also crop physiological and yield benefits from newer fungicides.

Look out for pollen beetle in uneven rape crops and seed weevil at mid-flower. Both pests can be controlled by quality pyrethroids but avoid tank mixing with triazole fungicides when bees are foraging in flowering oilseed rape.

Pea crops are growing rapidly with warmer weather. Start planning for post-emergence herbicides and ensure the crop is fully waxed before spraying. Pea and bean weevil and thrips should be controlled when damage is first seen. A follow up insecticide may be required.

Spring linseed is susceptible to flax beetle damage especially where seed beds are not consolidated or undressed seed was planted. Apply a long lasting insecticide as soon as flax beetle damage is found.


25 April 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod HunnisetMost crops have had nitrogen and adequate rain but are still looking hungry because they have been missing one vital ingredient – warmth!

A rise in temperature might bring wheat crops back to the stage we would expect them to be for this time of year, but a lot of crops are anything up to three weeks behind where they were this time last year.

Early drilled wheat crops have leaf three emerged on the main stem and are getting their main T1 fungicide now. Disease levels are generally quite low but with more rain forecast and warmer temperatures I’m not cutting back too much on rates at the moment.

Winter oilseed rape has now started flowering in most cases with the stem extending on pigeon grazed or backward crops.

These crops will not be getting a growth regulator/green bud fungicide as disease levels are very low and will probably get an early flower/first petal treatment instead which will cut out a pass and can also normally be done without needing a high clearance sprayer.

Pollen beetle levels have generally been below threshold and are less of a risk once the crop has started flowering.

Winter barley has had its first fungicide – I’ve tended to use Fandango (prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin) which should see it through to the awns emerged stage.

I’ve used a fair amount of Axial (pinoxyden) in barley this year as a more reliable method of controlling wild oats – trial results have been very promising.

Spring barley is tillering and will soon need broad-leaved weed control/T1 fungicide. Peas, spring beans and linseed are all emerging and will need monitoring over the next two weeks or so for insect damage, namely weevil, flea beetle and thrip.


18 April 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookAll cereals are suffering from the stop-start growth but will soon recover with some consistently warm weather. 

Growth regulators have been applied to forward thicker wheat crops, most with chlorothalonil, but later crops can wait until T1.

Leaf dissections are showing a very mixed picture and we will need to be careful timing T1s for leaf 3 fully emerged. Some forward crops are still at leaf 4 emerging, other forward crops have leaf 3 coming through and even some crops still at GS30 have leaf 3 emerging!

T1 sprays are likely to be applied from 24 April to most crops.  Disease levels remain low at present but there is some evidence that mildew and rusts are beginning to be active again. 

First main splits of Nitrogen are being applied despite some crops not yet having fully taken up first dressings, but with crops not over thick anywhere an earlier timing will not do any harm.

The most advanced winter barleys have now received their first fungicides and the rest will follow shortly.  Net Blotch, rhyncho and some brown rust are present in many crops although at low levels. Malting crops now have all nitrogen applied and feed crops will be completed soon.

Oilseed rape crops continue to recover well from the prolonged cold and pigeon grazing.  Crops are generally growing fast and are not over thick, so fewer growth regulatory fungicides have been applied this year.  Flower buds are now extending well with no pollen beetle problems but watch the backward areas.

Spring barley crops are growing slowly but not as slow as the weeds which are only just beginning to emerge.

Linseed and spring rape crops are being drilled at present.  Winter beans are at last beginning to grow away.  A few weevil notchings have been seen in winter crops but nothing yet in spring crops.  If leaf notching is seen in spring beans then a pyrethroid will be needed.


11 April 2006

Jos Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
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joss wood thumbProgress on farms has been slow. The first main split of nitrogen on winter wheats is being applied now, but the cold weather is still holding crops back.

Many planned T0 fungicides/ growth regulators will be delayed in favour of T1 timings, which will in most cases, be during the last week of April.

Fungicide choice will obviously vary according to variety, drilling date and location for first wheats, but second wheat programmes will be based on Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole).

Spring barleys are emerging evenly, and will receive a chlormequat-based growth regulator at the 2.5-3 leaf stage.

Following successful use of the herbicide Hussar (iodosulfuron-methyl) on spring barley last year (at recommended ¾ rate) where control of annual meadow grass, ryegrass, cleavers and even wild oats was excellent, I intend using it on a wider scale this season.

Spring beans are emerging strongly, and with moist soil conditions, the Centium (clomazone)-based pre emergence herbicide programme appears to be working well.

Even more noticeable this year is the widespread evidence of Magnesium and Manganese deficiency showing up in all overwintered crops. Not surprising, given the stressful conditions they have experienced over the winter. Measures will be taken throughout the season to rectify this.


4 April 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
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James ShortAt long last spring has arrived with a noticeable increase in temperatures and longer daylight hours!

Winter wheat and barley are at growth stage 30 and ready for the first application of chloremequat where a split application is intended.

Lodging must be avoided at all costs and product choice and dose rate will depend on variety, soil type, nitrogen applications and previous experience.

Disease levels are remarkably low, but watch for mildew, Septoria tritici and rust infections in wheat. T0 fungicides are always debateable but are a key part of a managed fungicide programme. Managing risk, early drilling and variety choice will often dictate that a low cost T 0 fungicide is justified.

Oilseed rape is growing rapidly with the most forward crops at flower buds visible stage. Delay the main nitrogen application to late green bud to avoid lush crops, which often do not produce the highest yields.

Canopy management is essential to achieve high yields and where appropriate fungicides with PGR effects should be applied at late green/yellow bud. Watch for pollen beetle with warmer temperatures and ensure trace elements (especially boron) are not limiting to yield potential.


28 March 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod HunnisetI was abroad for the first two weeks of March and came back to find that nothing had changed at all or if anything the crops had gone backwards due to the freezing temperatures and north-easterly wind.

The weather has now broken, the rain has at last arrived and with rising temperatures I’m expecting crops to race away.

All the winter oilseed rape has now had some nitrogen, as have all but the most forward wheat crops.

Chlormequat recommendations have gone in on some forward crops, including pre – T1 fungicides. Most are chlorothalonil based with a triazole going on Robigus.

Cherokee (cyproconazole, propiconazole and chlorothalonil) seems to be good value this year so I’m giving it a try in some places. Most other wheat crops will be getting PGR/pre T1 recommendations over the next fortnight.

I’m still amazed at how well the autumn residuals are holding out, with very few crops needing over-spraying for grassweeds yet. It will be a huge bonus if we can avoid costly contact sprays for blackgrass, with maybe a low rate going on later to mop up any wild oats.

Winter barley will be getting T1 fungicide recommendations over the next fortnight or so. This will be a triazole/ strobilurin mix and the most likely product at the moment is Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole).

Spring beans, feed peas and spring barley have been drilled into perfect seedbeds. Now we’ve got some moisture the residuals should work very well.

Linseed will be going in over the next week or so, and hopefully it will get up and away quickly so that the plants are strong enough to cope with broadleaved weed herbicides before the weeds get too big.


21 March 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookThere has been a little growth on wheat crops, despite the cold weather.

A few forward, early sown crops have reached growth stage 30, so growth regulators are being planned for these crops, but not to be applied until we have active growth and warm weather. These most forward crops will be at greatest risk from septoria, so a T0 chlorthalonil will be added to these applications.

Autumn weed control has been very good and leaves us with little to deal with at the moment.

Oilseed rape crops have been slowly growing over the last few weeks, where pigeons have allowed them. The cold has set the crops back badly so we are not considering many growth regulatory fungicides at present, but warm weather could change our thoughts.

The first main nitrogen application has been applied to most crops, but there has been little uptake yet.

Winter barley has shown little movement but malting crops will need their total nitrogen applied over the next three weeks. Feed crops can have their nitrogen later. Growth regulators will need to be planned in April.

Spring barley crops sown in January are only just pushing through due to the cold, and February sowings are just chitting.

Winter beans have been slow all winter and generally establishment has been much poorer than expected, and a couple of crops will re-sown to spring beans.


14 March 2006

Joss Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
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joss wood thumbWith the recent prolonged cold weather, it is not surprising that the development of wheat crops has been held back.

Judging by current growth stages, I predict the correct timing for the first chlormequat split in this area to be towards the end of March, together with a T0 fungicide of chlorothalonil +/- triazole. This will reduce pressure on the precise timing +of T1, and help ease the “gap” between T1 and T2 fungicide timing, which ideally should not exceed 3-3½ weeks.

With the improved temperatures, blackgrass is beginning to move again, so planned applications of Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) will hopefully be completed by the end of March – ground conditions permitting. Brome also needs to be tackled now.

Winter barley, although well tillered, has also been held back, and is beginning to show signs of stress, so planned applications of ammonium sulphate will be applied shortly.

Winter oilseed rape is beginning to recover from the ravages of the winter and unprecedented pigeon damage with the help of early nitrogen. A planned application of magnesium should also help aid recovery.

Potash is being applied where necessary to all winter crops, in mixtures with ammonium and magnesium sulphate.

About 50% of spring crops have been planted into fantastic seedbeds in this cold dry spell, but recent wet weather will delay remaining plantings.


7 March 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
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James ShortAutumn-applied residual cereal herbicides have worked extremely well this season and few weed problems are present.

However, it is a good time to walk fields and note areas of grass weeds. Where blackgrass has not yet been treated, my advice would be to spray as soon as temperatures rise above freezing.

Use robust dose rates and the right product to do the job. The consequences of herbicide resistant blackgrass developing are long term and expensive.

Growth Stage 30 normally arrives around the spring equinox in the most forward cereal crops, the earliest timing for growth regulators and fungicides.

I suspect residual soil nitrogen levels are above average this season given the dry winter. Hopefully this will be confirmed by a number of soil nitrogen samples which will aid decision making complicated by Cross compliance, Nitrate Vulnerable Zone’s and the cost of Nitrogen!

The recent cold weather has seen several spring crops planted with cultivator drills. Depth of drilling is critical if simazine is intended. With only bentazone (Basagran), as a post emergence option in beans, it is essential to use a pre-em herbicide for effective residual weed control.

Always add glyphosate to residual herbicides if weeds are present at the time of application.


28 February 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
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Steve CookWith lengthening days it is tempting to think that spring is just around the corner and that crops could need nitrogen fertiliser applications.

However, most wheat crops are very well-tillered, and there are good reserves of nitrogen in the soil; so these crops are unlikely to need any nitrogen until the end of March.

Thinner crops may need some nitrogen with or without sulphur sooner, but not until we have warm weather and active growth.

Manganese deficiency is showing on prone soils despite autumn treatments. This will need to be treated as soon as there is an opportunity, as this deficiency will kill plants.

The continuing cold weather is at least taking out more mildew, so when spring comes, this disease will not be as bad as it was going into the winter.

Oilseed rape crops continue to try to grow away from pigeons but the cold weather keeps setting them back.

Nitrogen applications will be needed when the weather warms, except in crops which had sewage sludge or farm yard manure in the autumn and where there still is plenty of nitrogen available and crops are generally thicker and less damaged.

There is no urgency for any field work at the moment so take the opportunity to ensure paperwork, such as Crop Protection Management Plans and the Soil Protection Review, is in order.


21 February 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
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Tod Hunniset

Winter rape has lost a lot of colour over the past few weeks and even the most forward crops have opened up dramatically. Many crops will get their first dose of nitrogen with sulphur over the next week or so provided the recent rains have not made the ground too boggy. It’s surprising how quickly the ground can go from very dry to very wet this time of year.

Only the most backward or thin crops of wheat will need early nitrogen this year, and then only when the weather warms up enough to stimulate growth again. Only the most forward crops have had first split chlormequat recommendations, and again the weather will need to warm up a bit before they go on.

Most of my wheat crops will have a pre-T1 fungicide this year, normally based around chlorothalonil, with the exception being where I’ve found yellow rust in Robigus, which will have a triazole.

Pre-T1 fungicides are a useful management tool that buys a bit of extra time if the weather turns dodgy at true T1 timing, and they are often associated with a growth regulator application so don’t involve an extra pass.

Where Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) recommendations were postponed because the weather got too cold last autumn they can now be applied when the grassweeds start growing again, but before they get too big.

Some spring drilling has taken place, mainly spring barley into excellent seedbeds, and some spring beans. Pre – emergence weed control is essential in spring beans and mine will have a Centium (clomazone) + Bullet (cyanazine + pendimethalin) + simazine mix. Where I used this mix last year in many cases I didn’t have to follow up with anything, not even a graminicide


14 February 2006

Jos Wood – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Dorset
(Click to contact)

joss wood thumbDuring the recent protracted period of cold, dry weather, a fair amount of drilling has taken place.

Planting conditions on the chalkland have resembled “onion seedbeds” enabling ideal spring barley and spring bean sowing to proceed.

Pigeon attack on oilseed rape continues relentlessly, but with spring growth beginning and with the first application of Nitrogen due, the crop should quickly recover.

Winter wheat crops have overwintered extremely well, and with High Soil Nitrogen indices (not surprising after such a dry winter), care will have to be taken not to overdo early fertiliser applications.

On a local theme, I was extremely pleased to hear that after many years of research and lobbying, Wessex Grain and Green Spirit Fuels have at last received planning permission for building a Bioethanol plant at Henstridge.

This is fantastic news for local arable farmers who will look on this as an opportunity to hopefully build some stability into their feed wheat marketing. The target is to have the Bioethanol plant up and running by December 2007, utilising as much as 350,000 tonnes of Wheat (high starch) per year.

This relates to approximately 10% of the entire Southwest wheat production, and will make a significant contribution to reducing the UK’s exportable surplus.

Meanwhile, I continue soil sampling, assisting with Soil Protection Plans, Soil Management Plans, Manure Management Plans, Crop Protection Management Plans, Nutrient Management Plans, and I almost forgot, Crop Inspections! We must not lose sight of our objectives!


7 February 2006

James Short – H L Hutchinson, Kent
(Click to contact)

James ShortAutumn applied cereal herbicides have been very effective in controlling grass and broadleaved weeds.

Best advice for spring grass weed control is to wait for active weed growth and warmer temperatures – always use the appropriate herbicide dose rate for the growth stage of the weed.

Brown rust and mildew can be found in susceptible varieties. Applying fungicides pre Growth Stage 30 is probably not cost effective in most situations. T0 fungicides can be combined with a PGR application in mid March if required.

Winter oilseed rape canopies have now opened up with the recent cold weather and have allowed applications of Kerb (propyzamide) and Crawler (carbetamide) to be completed.

Thistles are a problem in autocast crops, but best wait for warmer weather before applying herbicides. Club root is to be found in several fields this season – best advice is to identify and map areas so future cropping decisions and variety choice can be made.

Given the importance of oilseed rape in the rotation, it is essential to maintain pH levels and control cruciferous weeds e.g. Shepherds Purse, which can harbour the fungus.

The mild autumn, close rotations and forward oilseed rape crops have probably made this season the worst club root year for a long time.

With mid-February only a few days away, Entry Level Scheme over-wintered stubble can now be cultivated or sprayed with glyphosate. In many situations ploughing is not necessary and spring crops can be established with minimal cultivations.


30 January 2006

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy, Hampshire
(Click to contact)

Tod HunnisetCrops have grown surprisingly well recently. Late drilled wheat and winter bean crops that had not emerged by Christmas are now through in rows, and new growth of grass is easy to see.

But, winter oilseed rape has not yet taken off and in a lot of situations is being severely damaged by pigeons.

Where the canopy has been opened up or reduced there have been some flushes of grassweeds and in known difficult situations I have taken the opportunity to go back in with a contact graminicide in mixture with a residual, e.g. carbetamide.

Backward or severely grazed crops will receive their first nitrogen with sulphur before the end of February but healthy crops will probably wait until March.

Autumn residual herbicides have worked superbly in general. In many cases, later drilled crops that had a pre- or early post-emergence treatment have not needed a “holding” treatment and will get a follow-up contact spray when the weather warms up in the spring, probably with a growth regulator.

Very few will need early nitrogen and deep N testing will be used in various places to determine the level of residual nitrogen before the first dressings go on, probably early – mid March.

Canopy manipulation using timely nitrogen applications is a far more effective method of preventing lodging than piling on PGRs. Winter oats need to be a healthy shade of dead before they get any at all.

Over–wintered ploughing has broken down wonderfully and should make excellent seedbeds for spring drilling. Spring barley drilling will start in a couple of weeks, with beans and peas waiting until mid March and linseed until end March/early April.


24 January 2006

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems, Hampshire
(Click to contact)

Steve CookWinter wheat crops have begun to grow a little following milder conditions in January, and taken on a healthier colour.

Manganese deficiency is showing on prone soils despite autumn treatments and this will need to be treated as soon as there is an opportunity as this deficiency will kill plants.

Slugs have reappeared in a few crops following oilseed rape and have caused some significant damage. With successful treatment, hopefully there will be no further problems.

I do not believe that we have had enough growth yet to allow any of the sulfonylurea grass weed herbicides, delayed by cold weather in November and December, to be applied effectively yet. These treatments will need to wait until the longer warmer days.

There have been a number of farms trying to apply phosphate and potash fertilisers but there is no hurry and definitely no need to make ruts. If ground conditions are not right, stay out – if you make ruts they will stay with there all season.

Oilseed rape crops have been hit very hard by the winter frosts and pigeon grazing. The heart is still intact and almost all crops in our area will make a full recovery providing the birds are kept off through February and plants can grow away.

These areas will benefit from some early nitrogen if we get some mild weather in February. The frosts have successfully dealt with most charlock.

Later sowings of winter beans have been very slow to emerge due to cold weather but these are now coming through. The delayed emergence may not affect yield but could delay harvest.

Spring barley sowing has started on some of our farms and will get going in earnest during the next dry spell.


17 January 2006

Joss Wood – AICC (Dorset)
(Click to contact)

joss wood thumbPigeons have caused unprecedented damage to oilseed rape crops this winter and in some cases, this has lead to complete crop destruction.

The lack of beech mast this season is thought to have contributed to the very early pigeon grazing and the question now is, can one afford to plant a replacement spring crop in these situations or leave it as natural regeneration or set-aside?

One alternative “low risk”/ “low input” crop one might consider, is spring oats, especially if you can secure a contract for the end product.

Winter cereals have overwintered very well (so far!) and autumn residual herbicides appear to have done a good job.

Many later sown wheats have been badly attacked by rooks and constant vigilance is needed to prevent them “hooking up” the young shoots. In some cases, plant populations have been reduced by as much as 50%.

Thoughts are now turning to planning fertiliser timings and applications for the coming season, as well as completing Soil Management plans and Crop Protection Management plans as part of the Entry Level Scheme applications.

Much of the spring cropping will be malting barley, although some will consider spring beans, as newer varieties have a better disease profile and more reliable and higher yields.


View last season’s Crop Watch reports:
Autumn/ winter 2005
Spring/ summer 2005

Crop Watch – South

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems

Winter wheat T1 fungicides are now being applied. Leaf three is now emerged in most crops, and some early September sowings of Solstice and Einstein have leaf two emerging.

T1 spraying is urgent if not already completed as the last three weeks have seen significant rain splash events – septoria will be developing in these important leaves.

Second wheats are generally later sown so the important leaves will not have been exposed to septoria spores for so long which means that prothioconazole will be sufficient and will bring eyespot and fusarium control. Azoxystrobin may be added to second wheats to cover take-all.

Mildew is active and threatening again so control may be needed on susceptible varieties e.g. Claire and Solstice.

Winter oilseed rape crops are approaching the twenty pod set stage for mid-flowering fungicide.

Sclerotinia is not our main concern but alternaria is a real problem and protection will be needed to take the crop from now to harvest. Costs will be careful considered but crops will be treated.

Spring barley crops are growing slowly and weed emergence has been low so far! This will all change rapidly with warm temperatures.

Winter oats are running out of soil nitrogen reserves and so it will soon be time to consider fertilizer applications although starving then for a while will help keep them short.

Most of our crops can not have chlormequat applied so this will be a method of growth regulation. Last year, despite some dry May weather after application yields were not reduced by this action.

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12 April 2005

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems
(Click to contact)

Most crops are now beginning to grow rapidly Winter wheats are at varied growth stages with early drilled crops reaching GS 31 and the later drilled crops still in the mid to late tillering phase.

Septoria tritici is the most prevalent disease with all but the late winter drilled crops showing good levels of the disease.

With our wet climate, varietal resistance seems to count for very little at this stage of the season with Robigus showing as high a level of infection as more susceptible varieties.

Claire has continued to have mildew present, particularly in sheltered sites or where seed rates were too high. T0 sprays have been or are currently being applied with the first of the T1 sprays due to be applied around April 15.

Most winter barley crops are at GS 30 to 31, with T1 sprays going onto crops now. In general crops are looking well, with as much potential as last year – which proved locally to be the best winter barley season for several years.

Some early flowering winter rape crops are approaching full flower while later varieties such as ES Astrid are still budding up or just showing their first flowers.

Early drilled spring barley crops are now well emerged as are the broadleaved weeds and wildoats.

If recent wet weather continues rhynchosporium will soon become a problem in these crops although we are hoping the introduction of the variety Doyen with good rhyncho resistance will help relieve this pressure.

The appearance of plastic netted fields means that the planting of the Culinary Swede crop is now well under way in the area. This will continue for the next 2 months to give a spread of harvest dates next autumn and winter.

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5 April 2005

Tod Hunnisett – Chichester Crop Consultancy
(Click to contact)

Winter wheats have responded well to recent warm weather and nitrogen applications, with many crops approaching or at GS 31.

Some late Sept-drilled Solstice already has leaf 3 emerging, with a T1 fungicide recommendation gone in, there is the possibility of a long gap between T1 and T2. Most wheat crops are now receiving a first split of PGR (chlormequat) plus or minus T0 fungicide (probably chlorothalonil).

Soil N reserves range from 20kg/ha to 100 kg/ha with a significant number above average. N applications could be reduced by 50-60kg/ha in some well established, deep rooted crops. Some wheats are yet to receive their first N dose!

Winter barleys are approaching or at GS31, with T1 fungicides going on over the next week or so.

Disease levels are generally low. Any rampant over wintered mildew was fairly well frazzled by cold weather in early March, bringing it back to manageable levels. 18mm rain last week might wake up septoria levels in wheat, especially as they now start taking up nitrogen.

Spring crops have gone in fantastically. Spring barley is up and away and peas and spring beans are just peeking through. Last week‘s rain was perfect for residual herbicides.

Keep an eye on crops for pea and bean weevil, especially on the chalk. Thrips could become a problem on peas if weather turns colder this weekend.

Winter OSR: Extremely high levels of pollen beetle have been found on sites from Hampshire to Kent. Many crops are receiving a pyrethroid with their stem extension fungicide if the crops are not yet flowering.

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29 March 2005

Chris Bean – Technical Director, UAP
(Click to contact)

Having recovered from the effects of the late wintry blast, crops are now threatened by the prospects of drought with only 50% of winter rainfall across the region.


  • Crops are mostly at GS30 and are now beyond the ideal stage for chlormequat.

  • Malting barley should receive its final top dressing. Feed crops should receive the first main nitrogen dressing.

  • Disease levels are variable – mildew appears to have been cleaned up by the frost leaving net blotch and in some cases, rhynchosporium to control.

  • T1 fungicide treatments will need to be applied over the next 10 days.


  • Earlier emerged crops are at or close to leaf 4 emergence with septoria levels high in most varieties (except Robigus). High risk septoria varieties should be targeted over the next 7 – 10 days with a T0 fungicide. This will reduce disease levels at T1 (leaf 3 emergence) so making timing easier and potentially improve yields.

  • Add chlormequat at T0 for early growth manipulation.

  • First main top dressings should now be applied.


  • Crops with a high biomass and high lodging risk should be assessed for and treated now (at rapid stem extension) with a growth regulating fungicide.

Peas and Beans

  • Check emerging crops (and overwintered field beans) for signs of pea and bean weevil activity and treat accordingly.

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22 March 2005

Steve Cook – Hampshire Arable Systems
(Click to contact)

Winter wheat crops are looking very good, well tillered and most seem to have good yield potential. But of course, there is a long way to go and much that can go against us.

Septoria tritici is very evident in all early sown crops but stem bases are clean. Early sown crops are approaching GS30 and growth regulators will be applied soon.

Septoria protection (Chlorthalonil) will be added to most varieties. The cold weather has done us a favour by controlling Mildew.

Winter Barley crops are still flat on the ground and now look yellow. These will move quickly in next two weeks so keep an eye on them. Disease levels are low at the moment but watch out if wet weather returns.

Winter Oats look too good and may not need Nitrogen until May. Winter rape is extending well with no new disease, so fungicides can wait until mid-flowering. Spring Barley is now emerging.

One Surrey farm has just sown spring wheat on sand – this must be a sure sign of a drought to come!

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