17 May 2001
Experts optimism on cereal prospects

By Andrew Blake and Andrew Swallow

MANY fields still have plenty of potential despite widely differing crop development across the country, advise agronomists.

Firming prices make essential inputs to maximise output increasingly easy to justify, particularly from early sown winter wheats, they say.

Treat your good crops as well as you ever would, if not better, urges ADASs David Parish, pointing out that prices are 25% up on last year.

Dont skimp on nitrogen, beware of under-doing fungicides and be sure to assess lodging risk, he adds.

A key difficulty this season is knowing how to treat crops that vary within fields.

Abandon the wet holes, but not whole fields, advises Dick Neale, of Cambs merchant HL Hutchinson.

Much can be achieved by different tractor forward speeds, adds Keith Dawson of CSC CropCare.

After the weekends warmth and rain early this week, many cereals have been transformed, says Mr Neale. They look in pretty good fettle.

Poor earlier growth is blamed on a lack of microbial activity in cold soils. Now things have warmed up we are starting to see major changes, said Mr Neale.

Spring sowings, especially spring wheat, are tillering like crazy. Id never believe how they are responding.

The main requirement now is to get outstanding nitrogen top-dressings on as soon as possible, adds Mr Neale.

He dismisses fears that a drought and poor rooting may limit potential. There is now no way we are going to run into moisture stress.

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