7 May 1999

Flag leaf spray timings must be right – experts

By Charles Abel

FAST growing wheats could catch cereal growers out this season, warn agronomists. Although some crops have only just received T1 sprays, flag leaf spraying must be applied on time.

"After the difficult conditions in April many growers have only just applied their first sprays and may be reluctant to go back. But flag leaves are starting to emerge and disease remains a threat," says ADAS head of arable consulting Julian Hayes.

That could be a particular concern where corners were cut with T1 sprays, he advises. "Anybody using older chemistry or recommendations written some time ago could have failed to achieve full protection of the crop."

Growers now face the prospect of a rapid return to protect emerging flag leaves. Soissons had flag leaves showing last weekend and early-September drilled crops are close behind, he notes.

"In many cases crops had final leaf three and even final leaf two emerged when late T1 sprays went on," says Mr Hayes. "More astute growers upped triazole rates to get more kick-back to keep those clean. Anyone who has used a strobilurin-only programme could have a problem."

In East Anglia many crops appear to be little further forward than GS32, but leaf production is running well ahead of nodal development, says Colin Myram of Suffolk-based CropCare.

He urges growers to ignore the traditional four week gap between T1 and T2 sprays and to be prepared to go back as soon as the crop needs protection.

Many growers waited for GS32 to apply their first spray and after last weeks wind and rain have now missed T1 altogether, notes Dick Neale for Wisbech-based distributor Hutchinsons.

With flag leaves starting to emerge, he says forget earlier recommendations and apply a robust flag leaf treatment instead.

If a strob is being used stay above three-quarters rate and add at least a half rate of appropriate triazole, he urges. The only further spray then needed may be a "sniff" at ear emergence.

Where a T1 spray did go on flag leaf spraying can be delayed until full emergence, provided a robust triazole rate was used, he notes "But dont wait until ear emergence – thats just too long this season."

FLAG LEAF SPRAY

&#8226 Tight T1-T2 spray gap.

&#8226 Flag leaves appearing now.

&#8226 Check disease protection.

&#8226 Plan for early T2 fungicide.

Waste disposal cost probe set up

A NEW project to find the true cost of disposing of arable waste packaging in a more environmentally acceptable way than burning on farm is under way in East Yorks.

JSR Farming Groups four farms covering 6000ha (15,000 acres) produce about 6t of waste each year, including nearly 12,000 pesticide containers and over 6500 fertiliser bags.

The BAA is largely funding the £10,000+ project.

The scheme, which also has FMA and JSR support, involves specialist firm Cleanaway collecting two distinct lines of waste over a three-week period.

The first, consisting of rinsed plastic containers, non-oxidising fertiliser bags, seed bags, wrappings and other non-hazardous dry waste, is being placed in 12cu yd containers. The contents then become licensed waste for energy generation.

The second line, collected in 205litre clip-to drums, consists of empty oxidising fertiliser bags, and contaminated agchem containers from dry applications and contaminated cardboard. This will be directed to Cleanaways Waste Management Centre for incineration or specialist landfill.

The BAA has been investigating recovery since 1994, says Mr Dyer. "It soon became clear that there is no point in looking just at pesticide packaging. We must consider all arable waste. The key requirements of any scheme are that it must be safe and low cost."

Current BAA policy is against recycling, notes Mr Dyer. "But some of the plastic collected is recyclable and may be worth something."

JSRs technical director Philip Huxtable says various waste packaging regulations are already biting quite hard outside agriculture. The current project stems from a management trainee exercise highlighting the comparative lack of disposal schemes to assist farmers.

RECOVERYSCHEME

&#8226 Pilot for all arable waste.

&#8226 Heat generation aim.

&#8226 6t from 6000ha.

&#8226 Detailed cost study.

Chem company pulls out

AGROCHEMICAL manufacturer AgrEvo has withdrawn from Cereals 99, the national combinable crops event at Vine Farm, Wendy, Herts on June 16 and 17.

The move reflects uncertainties over the timing of registration for the companys fluquinconazole-based cereal seed treatment which was due for launch this autumn, says a spokesperson. The new product is said to control foliar infections until mid-spring, plus take-all and seed diseases.

Promotion will now focus on the companys AgreNova demonstration site at East Winch in Norfolk and distributor trials elsewhere around the country.

Soya surge – and more to come by 02

SOYA area in the UK is up again this spring, but merchants are divided on how the crop should progress.

Robin Appel is multiplying seed stocks rapidly, and sees the crop surging to 20,000ha (50,000acres) by 2002. But Nickerson Seeds is more cautious, preferring a gradual expansion.

"We are not keen on the crop expanding too quickly, and expect a similar area to last year," says Nickersons Simon Broddle. Its Canadian varieties Major and Armor are combine harvested at about 26% moisture for crimping and on-farm feeding. They took about 110ha (280 acres) last year.

But Robin Appel has no such holds on production of its Russian-bred variety Northern Conquest (Arable, July 17). "Seed is the limiting factor this year," says technical director Edward Willmott.

Of 360ha (900 acres) planted in the UK this spring, all bar 40ha (100acres) is for seed production. "If all goes well we should have enough for about 14,000 acres in 2000," he says.

That could be boosted further with seed from New Zealand. Legislative delays last autumn meant 6ha (15 acres) grown there was harvested too late for UK planting this spring. But that will be grown-on down under next winter, adding 1200-1600ha (3000-4000 acres) to the UK crop in 2000.

Gross margins justify its place as an alternative spring break, especially once Agenda 2000 proposals have worked through, he says.

Next season Robin Appel plans to offer growers a guaranteed price for commercial produce. It is currently in talks with feed manufacturers and the poultry industry about supplying traceable GM-free UK grown soya.

But interested growers should not bank on GM free premiums, warns Mr Willmott. "We are working on getting the maximum price for the crop, but are defensive about premiums. We dont want to build up grower hopes."

SOYASURGE

&#8226 Nearly 500ha planted

&#8226 20,000ha predicted by 2002

&#8226 Norfolk to Severn Valley for grain soya