25 April 1997

Growth stimulant can beat dry

DROUGHTED cereals will benefit from a growth stimulant application to boost water and nutrient uptake, claims a maker.

Many treat such claims with scepticism, but two crop consultants agree yield benefits are possible.

Ron Kitchin, who supplies cyto-kinin-based Redicrop stimulant, says research at Abertay University in Dundee shows the product contains osmotic stabilisers which promote water and nutrient uptake.

Redicrop also increases rooting, says Mr Kitchin. Over 40 independent, commercial and grower assessment trials show root mass rose 38%. Better green leaf retention results, explains Mr Kitchin.

Colin Myram, of Crop Care Chemicals, Walsingham, Norfolk, applied the product with fungicide to droughted winter barley at the end of April last year. The replicated trials showed green leaf area rose 12% compared with fungicide-only treated plots.

"That gave a 3% yield increase. Although not quite statistically significant, it showed an effect," says Mr Myram. "I would expect to see a similar result with wheat."

He is advising some growers with stressed crops to use it. "I would advise putting it in with a fungicide so you do not need to make a special journey through the crop."

David Vine of Warwicks-based James Bent, part of the Masstock group. uses it widely at mid to late tillering to promote root growth. But apart from late crops after roots, it is probably too late for most crops to benefit now, he says.

Shortage of manganese and magnesium are the main deficiencies in his area. "Redicrop may help the crop scavenge a bit more. But given the cost I think growers would rather go through with trace elements alone."

The recommended rate of 1.25 litres/ha works out at £8.25/ha (£3.34/acre). &#42