HIGHER FERTILISER prices mean focussing on the cost effectiveness of applications will be vital this season, warn Cereals 2005 hosts, Velcourt.

With crude oil prices increasing to $52 per barrel and beyond and gas likely to follow, further rises in fertiliser prices are inevitable believes Velcourt‘s, Douglas Inglis, responsible for fertiliser buying.

“We have gone from being quite relaxed about the situation a few months ago to getting quite concerned for where prices will go for 2006 – there‘s got to be upward pressure on prices.”

Fertiliser is now the number one expense when growing a first wheat and growers must get the most out of what they apply, added Gary Jobling from Bayer CropScience.

The use of strobilurin fungicides can increase crop nitrogen uptake, but the timing of applications will be key to influencing any grain protein dilution effect, he added.

Earlier applications of trifloxystrobin at T1-T2 have been found to help improve yields, while later treatments at T2-T3 resulted in better grain fill and improved grain quality, he said.

Commenting on reports of higher residual soil nitrogen after the mild winter, Mr Inglis believes some growers may be able to cut back on rates slightly, but the effects are very variable across the country.

In some parts of East Anglia, available soil nitrogen levels are actually 20-30kg/ha lower than previous years, he noted.