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North: Atlantis now being applied to wheat

On the whole, crop establishment in North Yorkshire has been very good. Rainfall for September was 43mm and October is 64mm leading to near ideal growing conditions with only one frost.

 

However, as the year draws to a close, we are still 250mm of rain short of our long-term average and with the long range forecast predicting a dry winter this could provide some interesting challenges for 2012.

 

At long last soil temperatures are falling and the opportunity to apply residual graminicides is here. Heavy soils with grassweed burdens must be the priority and, although not ideal, this will often be tank mixed with a fungicide. Broad leaf weed problems in oilseed rape are much more difficult to deal with as the options available are very limited. Bifenox will be applied where suitable and, coupled with some helpful weather can, solve some brassica issues.

 

The mild weather has led to some very soft growth in the wheat and barley. Winter barley is always the most challenging crop to spray in the autumn and with limited grassweed control options crop checking is always a potential problem. In my experience, this tends to be more visual than yield robbing, but it always is in the field everybody can see!

 

Winter wheat on the other hand is a sturdier crop and appears to suffer less. Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) treatments are now being applied with residual partner products and should work well. Non-blackgrass fields are receiving a cheaper residual mix with, depending on volunteer rape, a contact-based product as required.

 

Aphids can at long last be found so crops emerged with two true leaves will also receive a pyrethroid. Despite the public perception that we as an industry have the sole aim of applying pesticides at every opportunity, it has been a delight to have an autumn where slugs have not been a major issue and pellets applications have been minimal. Let’s hope the rest of the season follows a similar pattern.

NORTH

5 June 1998




NORTH

OPTIMISING output from each field is the farming philosophy applied on 163ha (403-acre) Manor Farm at Eddlesthorpe, an all arable unit on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds near Malton.

Managed by crop input distributor Independent Agriculture, the farms policy on nitrogen use is determined by readings of soil nitrate levels gathered at regular intervals using the Solomon system.

Reflectometer readings of soil water samples drawn from suction lysimeters every 10 days give a clear picture of soil nitrogen reserves and enable bag nitrogen to be applied when it is needed by the crop.

"Using the system does not necessarily lead to savings," says IAs Chris Rigley. "But it does ensure nitrogen is available in the required quantity when it is needed to optimise output."

Typical nitrogen use is 170-175kg/ha (136-140 units/acre) for winter wheat and 200kg/ha (160 units/acre) on oilseed rape, split into three applications. Smaller quantities applied more frequently would be ludicrous, says Mr Rigley.

The Solomon system is having important environmental effects by avoiding leaching of excess nitrogen into ponds and water courses, he adds.

Both are regularly tested and the highest nitrate reading recorded from drainage water has been 40ppm against a drinking water limit of 50ppm.

Having created 3m and 6m buffer zones under the Countryside Stewardship scheme care is taken not to spin nitrogen on to headlands and into hedge bottoms.

Precision use of fertiliser is easy if you know the nitrogen content of soil water, says Chris Rigely, farm manager for Independent Agriculture at Eddlethorpe, Yorks.

CHRIS RIGLEY

&#8226 Manages 163ha farm on Yorks Wolds for Independent Agriculture.

&#8226 Soil nitrogen test kit used to optimise fertiliser use.

&#8226 Water checks show minimal leaching or run-off.


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NORTH

2 January 1998




NORTH

GOOD autumn crop establishment is the sole bright spot for Caley Sackur as he contemplates the coming season at Lodge Farm, Tibthorpe, N Yorks.

"We have had a good start. But I should say we have got a very difficult year ahead."

That is on top of a largely disappointing 1997 thanks mainly to bad weather at harvest which wrecked wheat yield and quality. "The high for us was some good Halcyon malting barley which we got away early on a good contract. The oilseed rape was also OK.

"But our wheat yield was down 25% on the previous year." Some initial cuts went for milling, but most took hefty price deductions. "The worst was on the Hereward, which all went for feed."

With falling prices because of the strong £, the farm suffered a double knock, and the future looks little better, he says. "It makes the farming outlook very depressive."

Main practical lesson learned last season concerns sowing dates. "Do not drill Rialto too early," he advises. Sown about Sept 20 on ground readily available after vining peas the crop went flat.

"Do not go overboard with the nitrogen" is another lesson easily taught with the benefit of that experience. In theory the amount used was about right had it not been for the poor harvest weather. "With hindsight we might not have used so much."

Some success with Amistar (azoxystrobin) fungicide makes him keen to try it again.

Sowing dates must be spot on to maximise crop output, says Caley Sackur. That applies to spring and winter sown crops alike. Nitrogen rates also need fine-tuning.


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NORTH

26 December 1997




NORTH

NORTHERN barometer Caley Sackurs main criticism of the ACCS is the lack of return for its apparently high initial cost of £350 for his own unit.

"It seems a bit steep. What are we getting for our money?" Until such time as a marketing advantage emerges, he believes the cost should be lower. "Maybe £100 would be about right."

His other big concern is that buyers will have little hesitation in going abroad for supplies, where there may be no similar assurances, should they prove cheaper. "Germany and France for example may not be working to such firm guidelines."

Although believing some form of assurance is inevitable to prove to consumers that farmers are working to high standards, as a recently registered LEAF farm he considers the extra bureaucracy and form filling unwelcome.

He is still undecided whether to join up. "I expect to look at it in more detail after Christmas."

On a practical level he reckons Lodge Farm, Tibthorpe, N Yorks is fairly well placed to become registered without too many modifications. "We are doing most things required already. But some of the record keeping, for example on stored grain, seems a bit over the top. Monthly checks, once it is dried, should be adequate." Weekly monitoring during the busy autumn spell could be a waste of time, he suggests.

"We may have to make the store a bit more vermin-proof and attend to the light bulb covers." By and large though hygiene levels, with sound pre-harvest cleaning are good, he maintains.

Once-a-month checks of stored grain should be ample, says Caley Sackur, who has yet to decide whether to join the scheme.


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NORTH

5 September 1997




NORTH

CONTINUED showery weather has seen only limited progress with the wheat harvest, leading to frustration among growers who are now taking every opportunity to tackle crops.

Peter Hogg, New Houses Farm, Causey Park, Northumberland, is halfway through his wheat which is as much as 30% down on last year – failing to top 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) in places.

Bushel weight is holding up reasonably well, although shrivelled grains will need dressing out. Moisture content of standing crops has risen from 16% to 24% over the past 10 days. "It is a year we could have well done without. There wont be much shiny new machinery bought this year."

Glen Sanderson, Eshott South Farm, Felton, Northumberland, was halfway through wheat on Monday. He is disappointed at the bushel weight of Riband, but says Hereward milling wheat is better, although Hagberg results are awaited with trepidation.

"The driest we have combined wheat is 17%. The wettest is unprintable, but we feel we have to get on." Signs of sprouting are appearing in crops laid flat for a long time.

With 142ha (350 acres) at Yokefleet and 162ha (400 acres) at Driffield still to harvest Yokefleet Farms manager John Fenton says the outlook is beginning to get serious. Yield is averaging 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre), with sprouting now a big worry.

Bill Chrystal, Wingate Grange, Co Durham, had started 61ha (150 acres) of wheat on Monday, putting yield 10% down on last year.

Wet milling wheats are the worry for barometer farmer Caley Sackur at Tibthorpe, Yorks. Combines hit the crop for the first time in 10 days on Tuesday, moving into drying Avalon since lodged Rialto was too wet.

"Well go at 20-21% moisture – with 500 acres still to do we have to. But we want to avoid anything wetter, it means two passes through the drier." Rialto cut before the rains should make milling grade with 11.3-11.7% protein, 235-280 Hagberg and 77kg/hl. The effect of 10 days of rain on the remainder is awaited with some concern.


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NORTH

22 August 1997




NORTH

CROPS have not ripened as quickly as expected during recent hot weather leaving many growers waiting to start wheats earlier this week.

Where crop has been taken early, results are disappointing, with yields up to 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) down on last years exceptional harvest and almost to 1t/ha (8cwt/acre) down on average.

Viking Cereals, at Pocklington, says wheats are disappointing, up to 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down with bushel weights significantly lower. GrainCo, the Tyneside co-op, suggests early milling wheats are quite good with 11-12% proteins, but variable Hagbergs.

Barometer farmer Caley Sackur, Lodge Farm, Tibthorpe, has cut 30ha (75 acres) of wheat – mainly Rialto, which was last years top yielder. He is quite pleased with the sample but says yield is 1.85t/ha (0.75t/acre) lower.

Peter Smith, Barnborough Grange, High Melton, Doncaster, is a third through his wheats. Results are variable with yield down 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre), but second wheats better than anticipated at over 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre).

Kevin Littleboy, Howe Estate, Thirsk, is disappointed with yields down 1.6t/ha (0.6t/acre) on average. Rialto did 8t/ha (3.24t/acre) with 252-281 Hagberg and 11.2-12.9% protein. Consort did 8.8t/ha (3.56t/acre).

Yields of Muscat and Gaelic winter barley at Conicliffe Grange, Staindrop, Durham, also disappointed former barometer grower Michael Manners. "They are a good 0.5t/acre down on last year mainly because of lack of sunshine." First-cut wheat, third year Reaper, did 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre).

Clouds of dust swirling around combines testify to the high disease levels and brittle straw which characterise this years wheat crop.


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NORTH

1 August 1997




NORTH

HEAVY showers stopped combines in the middle of last week. Sun allowed a restart on Monday.

Grain traders suggest 5-25% of winter barleys and a little oilseed rape had been cut by then.

"A lot of barley is now ripe," says Jonathan Cockill, director of Argrain, Easingwold, Yorks. "Quite a bit is laid, and some is sprouting."

Yorks barley yields are typically 1.25t/ha (0.5t/acre) down on last year, and samples have been of low specific weight, with high screenings and nitrogens. "Hopefully there is better out there waiting to be cut."

The first few fields cut in Northumberland are similar and split grains are easy to find, says Kevin Mills of Allied Grain at Berwick.

Oilseed rape looks better. Mr Cockill estimates yields at 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre). At Barnburgh Grange, near Doncaster, Peter Smiths Commanche is yielding about 3.6t/ha (29cwt/acre). Fighter barley, now 75% cut, made 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre), similar to last year and better than anticipated.

At Skerningham Farm, Harrowgate Hill, near Darlington, Co Durham, Robert Darling took 9.8t/ha (4t/acre) of Manitou winter barley at 18% moisture, as last year.

Harvest started at Lodge Farm, near Driffield, Yorks, on Monday afternoon. Barometer grower Caley Sackur cut Regina winter barley, which he estimates yielded just under 8.64t/ha (3.5t/acre). "Its what I was hoping for. The second piece looks to be doing as well."

The sample was clean with no sign of germination or splitting, reports Mr Sackur.


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NORTH

27 December 1996




NORTH

OILSEED rape was crop of the year for Durham-based Michael Manners.

Indeed 1996 provided some good results overall at Conicliffe Grange, Staindrop, near Darlington.

"But it looks like 1997 is going to be worse, with the drift in prices. It takes the cream off the cake, and I cant see any light at the end of the grain tunnel unless the £ gives us a bit of help. Things have gone full circle in less than a year."

Main lesson this autumn has been to seize every spraying opportunity and to treat sooner, he says. "We have done all the barley and the rape, but there is still two-thirds of the wheat to do." Wind has been the enemy.

The main weed, meadow grass, may not cause too much immediate trouble but will build up in the seed-bank if left, he says.

"I shall be interested to see how chemical prices move this spring. The £ should be in our favour on imported materials. There are one or two new fungicides coming along, but I do not know much about them yet. I see fertiliser has steadied up. We bought early, but we have not lost or gained."

Joining a local grain co-op has been a good move, he believes. "It is the future for marketing."

Contract-grown potatoes are shielding Michael Manners from rock-bottom market prices.


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NORTH

6 September 1996




NORTH

AFTER a week of steady progress between showers, wheat harvest should be mostly finished by the weekend, except in Northumbria where some crops are barely ripe.

Barometer grower Michael Manners, Coniscliffe Grange, Staindrop, Darlington, reports yields averaging about 10t/ha (4t/acre), with Reaper doing especially well as a second wheat. Specific weights average 76kg/hl, but have been down to 73.

GrainCo, the Tyneside-based grain marketing organisation, reckoned wheats were only 25% completed by the start of the week. Hagbergs have begun to fall, says managing director Tim Pollock who is particularly concerned for Rialto. Proteins, 0.7% below last years level, are disappointing possibly reflecting high yields and consequent protein dilution.

In Yorkshires fertile Holderness area, Roger Cook of Kenby Farm, Owstwick, with only a days combining to do by Monday, has wheat averaging 10.5t/acre (4.2t/acre).

Milling varieties, combined first and safely in store, avoided any loss in Hagberg or protein.

Kevin Littleboy, Howe Estate, Thirsk, Yorks, with 39ha (97 acres) of wheat still to combine, says yields are mostly good, especially from continuous and second wheats. But crops after potatoes have disappointed.

Alan Jackson, West Coldcotes, Ponteland, Northumbria, reports his second latest harvest season in 12 years, with only 20% of wheat cut so far. "We have only been on for three days and wheats are running well. We like to think our yields are about 4t/acre."

John Hartop, Blagden Home Farm, Morpeth, Northumbria, has a fifth of his wheat combined, but needs another 10 good days to finish.

Michael Manners awaits the next dry spell to tackle wheat at Coniscliffe Grange near Darlington, Durham.


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NORTH

16 August 1996




NORTH

IT HAS been a better season for silage and haymaking in the North of England and stocks are generally considered adequate for the coming winter.

But in the Yorkshire and Durham dales, there is concern that supplies may not last if growing fears of low prices and lack of demand at the autumn suckler sales forces hill men to carry over extra cattle until the spring.

ADAS consultant Mike Fergus confirms that most farmers in the north are happy with their fodder stocks. Despite a late spring, grass crops bulked well towards cutting.

Bert Langthorne, who runs a mixed arable and dairy farm at Brompton, Northallerton, is happy that his three cuts of silage – and a fourth still to come – will see him through the winter.

Alastair Davy, Low Oxque Farm, Marrick, says it has been a fairly good year in the Yorkshire dales, but it was difficult to guage what fodder stocks were on farms and whether this would prove sufficient.

"We have to take into account the extra cattle which have been retained on farms during the summer and the possibility that some suckled calves may have to be retained because they cannot find a market," he says.

High protein content of this seasons silage must to be taken into account when planning winter rations says Jennifer Bell, nutritionist with north- west feed compounders, W and J Pye, Lancaster.

"Farmers in the north-west, where proteins look high, do not need to look for extra sources of rumen protein in winter rationing but instead must concentrate on achieving the correct balance with fer


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NORTH

2 August 1996




NORTH

SURPRISINGLY little progress has been made with the barley harvest, with combines confined to drought-stressed crops on sands and lighter soils.

Grain samples so far have been variable, with yields 0.6t/ha (0.25t/acre) down and bushel weights struggling to meet feed standards, says Robert Bealby, Gorse Lodge, Edwinstowe, Notts.

"We hope the limestone barleys will do better but they will be below budget and yields may be 5cwt down, albeit from a higher starting point."

Peter Smith, Barnborough Grange, High Melton, Doncaster, managed to cut one field of Fighter on Friday. But with nothing else ready staff are on a weeks holiday. The Fighter yielded well, over 7t/ha (3t/acre) with high bushel weights and low screenings. It left the farm on Monday for a 4000t export shipment from Immingham to Italy.

Wheats are still three to four weeks off but look promising, apart from on some of the thinner limestones where crops had suffered from moisture deficit.

Barometer farmer Michael Manners, Coniscliffe Grange, Staindrop, Darlington, reports two fields of Muscat combined and yielding 9t/ha (3.7t/acre). The grain sample was rather lean, with a bushel weight of 63-64kg/hl.

Viking Cereals at Pocklington, Yorks, report variable quality from early sands, with thin samples and a lot of screenings. It hopes samples will improve once combines start on the Yorkshire Wolds.

On the better bodied soils around Balne, Goole, Eric Wel-burn says his first feed barley averaged just under 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) with good berry size. But spring barleys have suffered in the dry. &#42


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NORTH

28 June 1996




NORTH

AT Sutton Mill Farm in Shropshire field boundaries are regarded as important wildlife habitats, so precise fertiliser and spray applications are crucial.

Richard Cotham, who farms 151.5ha (375 acres) at Claverley with his parents John and Janet, is convinced that efficient arable farming and good conservation are compatible.

His efforts to prove the point won the 1994 Cyanamid Award, and the £3000 cash prize was spent on a range of projects, including tree planting, hedgerow maintenance and renewal, and the creation of beetle banks.

These are not only reservoirs of aphid-devouring insects like ladybirds, they also function as wildlife corridors linking habitats. Spaced posts allow birds of prey to alight and control the crop-eating mice that colonise the 1.8m wide (6ft), 0.9m (3ft) high embankments.

But reaching the final in the Nitram competition depended mainly on being able to demonstrate effective fertiliser management. The way fertiliser is handled and stored was examined, as was its use on 37.1ha (92 acres) of sugar beet, and 77.5ha (192 acres) of spring and winter malting barley.

Mr Cotham told the judges that great care was taken to place fertiliser where it was needed. Precise applications are part of a policy that treats headlands as separate fields. Once the main parts of fields are sown, headlands are reworked using a Shakerator to eliminate compaction.

When working close to hedges and beetle banks the speed of the fertiliser spreader discs is adjusted to allow forward tractor speed to be maintained, while width of spread and the amount of prill bounce are controlled.

"We do not use any less fertiliser, but it is applied where the crop can use it," Mr Cotham says. "Plant populations and yields are the same on the headlands as in the rest of fields."

The farms soils are mostly loamy sands and susceptible to drought. Maintaining good soil structure is important. This is helped by applying poultry manure from a neighbouring free-range egg production unit.

At one time 27.6t/ha (12t/acre) was applied on sugar beet land, but this has been reduced to 18.4t/ha (8t/acre), which has cut amino-nitrogen levels.

On sugar beet nitrogen supply is currently topped up with 177kg/ha (72 units/acre) from the bag. Average yield is 57t/ha (25t/acre).

Improving fertility is being exploited by trying to cut the amount of fertiliser applied to barley. Very little is needed on the winter barley in the autumn and only a modest dressing in the spring to give yields of 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre). Spring barley gets 100kg/ha (80 units/acre) of nitrogen and yields 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre).

Full account is taken of all factors affecting crop nitrogen demand when deciding rates on William Wardmans Thrushwood Farm near Redcar.


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NORTH

11 August 1995




NORTH

BARLEY and oilseed rape harvest is nearly over. A start has been made on winter wheat but most crops need a few more days to be fit. Except on the lightest soils, yields are average or a little above.

Barometer grower Ian Brown reports rapid progress at Lee Moor Farm, near Alnwick, Northumberland. Sprite malting barley yielded 7.7t/ha (3.1t/acre) with a nitrogen of 1.61. Screenings were 8% but specific weight "quite good" at 68kg/hl.

Linnet feed barley, on low-lying fields, performed well at just over 9t/ha (3.7 t/acre) with a specific weight of 65.

Moisture ranged from 17% to 19% on the headlands. Oilseed rape was as low as 10-12%, a figure usually unheard of in the county.

With variable costs for the Sprite at £148/ha (£60/acre), against £247/ha (£100/acre) for Linnet, gross margin figures "make interesting reading".

Oilseed rape output at 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre) is "the best we have had for a long time". Wheats are two weeks away.

Andrew Chester, Little Givendale, Skelton-on-Ure, North Yorks, has just started his wheats, beginning with Cadenza. It gave 6.1t/ha (2.5t/acre) "not too bad for sand land and the year". It is weighing well but the sample "could be bolder".

Philip Huxtable of JSR Farms, Driffield, says barleys on chalk have done better than expected except on the High Wolds, where frost cut yields.


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NORTH

28 July 1995




NORTH

GOOD progress is being made with winter barley harvest in Yorkshire but it is early days to get a true indication of yields.

Philip Huxtable, arable technical director of the extensive JSR Farms operation at Southburn, Driffield, suggests barleys are doing better than at first thought and seem in excess of budget – a promising start.

By Tuesday the firms oilseed rape was still uncombined in Yorkshire but in Lincolnshire crops are reasonable and yielding a "good average 30cwt/acre".

Wheats have some way to go. On good-bodied land crops look full of potential but those on lighter soils have suffered moisture stress.

On the chalk wolds crops appear "extremely promising". The chalk had been recharged by the winter rains and there had been no shortage of moisture.

In Northumberland barometer farmer Ian Brown says it will be next week before he gets his combine into swathed rape and barley.

Some progress had been made in the Tyne and Tweed valleys.

"I cannot see any really light yields in Northumberland and the Borders," says Mr Brown. "There has been enough rain to keep bushel weights up."

At Brackenholme, Selby, Yorks, David Hare says a start has been made on oilseed rape in his area, with crops producing good average yields. He does not grow winter barley but his winter wheats are looking "surprisingly good". Harvesting is still a good week away.

Crops are healthy and standing well." Whether this is good or bad, I dont know. We used to regard crops that went down as the heavy ones."


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NORTH

21 July 1995




NORTH

PROSPECTS in Yorkshire and the north-east are for good yields of reasonable quality, apart from on drought-hit sands.

In Yorkshire combines were due to start barley this week. Selby crop consultant Ray Harrison expects good yields on moisture-retentive soils. But on light sand the situation "looks desperate", with poor yields of pinched grains expected.

On Yorkshires warp soils John Fenton, manager at Yokefleet Farms, says wheats look "exceptional". He now fears thunderstorms sending crops down.

Oilseed rape, drilled Aug 1 after set-aside, had been hit by frost. The crop produced plenty of pods but not all are full. By contrast spring beans have podded well.

In Northumberland barometer farmer Ian Brown says winter barley and oilseed rape are still two weeks away at Lee Moor Farm, Renwick, near Alnwick. Despite thunderstorms, both crops are still standing. He hopes barley will match the farm average of 7.5t/ha (3t/acre).

Wheats have finished flowering and should be well protected by a head spray. "Everything is looking promising. It could be quite a reasonable year. We have had enough rain to keep us going and we have not suffered from heat stress except on the lightest land."


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NORTH

19 May 1995




NORTH

ALTERNATE hot and cold weather, partly eased by the coastal location, has had quite an impact on spray decisions at Lee Moor Farm, Rennington, near Alnwick.

"There have been some huge changes in temperature, although on the coast here we have had some moderation. We have had no frost but it has been down to -3C inland," says Ian Brown. Earlier daytime temperatures in the "mid- 20s" brought crops along rapidly. "Sunshine in May is money in the bank for us."

Even so, wheat flag-leaf treatments are "still some way off". "The cooler conditions have checked disease." Earlier some stem base browning had caused concern over eyespot. "There was also a bit of mildew and septoria, but I have not seen any rust."

All the feed wheats had a reduced rate of Corbel (fenpropimorph), Sportak Delta (cyproconazole + prochloraz) and Bravo (chlorothalonil) at GS32 (second node), along with chlormequat growth regulator.

The later sown Cadenza for milling was due to get a similar programme this week.

Oilseed rape, in which pollen beetle was fast approaching the spray threshold, was due for treatment just before last weekend. But showers prevented application and subsequent cooler weather brought a reassessment.

"We have been trying to get some Terpal on to the winter barley before the awns appear – the timing is fairly critical – but we have been delayed about a week by showers." The moisture, however, was welcome for the peas and meant pre-emergence herbicide "worked very well".


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