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Crop Watch – West/SW

Latest report

18 July 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinWith wheat harvest rapidly approaching, the only treatment still to consider is pre-harvest glyphosate.

It is the best time to control couch grass and onion couch, provided there is sufficient green leaf on the weeds. Leaving it until after harvest does not allow enough time for re-growth if an autumn crop is planned.

It has been another unusual year; when did we last have a “normal” one? The 2006 growing season has been compressed. After a late start due to cold and dry conditions in March and April, crops developed rapidly in the warm, wet weather of May.

By early June most cereal crops looked to have great potential but a hot, dry month has probably reduced that potential, especially on thinner soils. Crops on the brash have lost most of their lower leaves and heavy showers in early July were probably too late to help.

On deeper soil things look better and prospects are good for harvest.

There is cautious optimism for the future on arable farms. Cereal and oilseed rape prices are a little better and at last, there are opportunities for producing for the biofuels market.

It is important that farmers take advantage of these openings; tonnage used for biofuels production means a reduced surplus on the market, which should help to increase crop values generally. Already bioethanol contracts are putting a “bottom” in the market from 2008 onwards.

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11 July 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonThe winter barley harvest has just started on the lightest soils where a few early crops of Siberia have been cut. Grain had become over dry with some samples coming off the combine at just over 10% moisture which will impact on crop yields.

Wheat crops are mostly reaching soft dough stage with a few backward crops only at milky ripe. Some of the thin or very light soils have been affected by the hot dry conditions causing premature ripening in patches which will limit yield potential.

Heavier soils and fields over chalk are holding on well, and with the promise of slightly cooler weather allowing full grain fill, the prospect of good yields remains.

In many areas where the flag leaf fungicide was delayed then extended gap from the T1 treatment has allowed some septoria to be expressed on leaf two but this has been held by the later fungicide sprays.

Wheat variety trials are showing a range of problems in the untreated plots suggesting that the resistance ratings of many varieties will need to be adjusted downwards to reflect this year’s disease development.

Winter oilseed rape crops are approaching the timing for desiccation with glyphosate. The cool dry spring and the change in management this year has produced many good standing crops which should help harvesting.

The large pods are filling well producing good seed sizes which should be reflected in the good expected yields.

Planning for the next crop has already started with discussion on crops, varieties and establishment techniques. The better prospect for wheat and oilseed rape is focusing attention but it is making the whole system work which will be important.

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3 July 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsThe difficult weather patterns continue as the season progresses. The delay to the T2 applications has brought about the increased levels of Septoria tritici that we feared it would.

Levels of septoria being expressed in the crops are in direct proportion to the delay in applying the T2.

The difference between programmes is becoming evident. Chlorothalonil at T0 and T2 appears to have been the best timings for this product and we are definitely seeing superior disease control where strobilurins were used at T2 with a triazole rather than where we relied purely on the triazole as the partner product with the chlorothalonil.

By the third week of June many wheat crops were beginning to suffer from drought stress with flag leaves beginning to roll while the crop was flowering. We then had good downpour, which brought the wheat back to life but will inevitably cause a few problems with disease particularly where no T3 has been applied.

It will be very interesting to follow the mycotoxin story through its first year.

Winter barleys are ripening quickly but the recent heavy rain has put a few more crops down.

Spring oilseed rape has experienced very high levels of Pollen Beetle and most crops have had to be treated.

Spring barleys are looking well but one or two crops following a previous barley crop have got higher than expected levels of rhynchosporium.

The maize crop has now had its herbicide application and the new products being used in the post-atrazine era have done a good job, taking out larger weeds with improved crop safety compared to the old standard of atrazine + bromoxynil treatment.

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27 June 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamAs always these days the weather is very wet or very dry with nothing in between, so we are now in a dry windy spell which has seen most crops starting to suffer, mainly on the lighter soils.

Spring crops
Sugar beet is meeting across the rows in most cases and enjoying the warm weather. Weed control has been good with some crops only receiving two sprays.

Conditions are ideal for boron deficiency on lighter soils and boron should be applied before end of June/signs of deficiency.

Spring beans have had Folio (chlorothalonil + metalaxyl-M) applied and hot, dry weather has dried up the downy mildew. Amistar (azoxystrobin) and Bravo (chlorothalonil) have been applied during the last week at first pod set.

We had good results with this tank mix in 2005, as it appears to give the same greening effect as in other crops, and also stops any rusts or chocolate spot getting out of control.

Spring barley crops are very clean despite a percentage only receiving one fungicide at flag leaf, Bravo and Talius (proquinazid) have worked well with no visible signs of spotting.

Winter wheat
Unsprayed trial plots are showing 50% septoria infection on flag leaves, but fortunately due to the great efforts of clients under extremely difficult conditions we are not confronted with any wheat looking like this.

Very robust T2 sprays ended up being applied from 4-5 and 1-2 weeks past T1 and the majority of crops are clean enough, albeit not as good as I would wish.

Cleaner varieties have leaf one and two clean with approx 5-10% septoria on leaf three. Varieties such as Consort, Napier and Ambrosia have approximately 2% septoria on leaf two and about 10% septoria on leaf three.

Very little T3 spraying has been done. Milling wheats and those destined to be fed to pigs have had ear spray based on prothioconazol + azoxystrobin.

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20 June 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinAfter three weeks of warm, dry weather crops, in the main, look very promising.

Winter wheat
Most crops should have received their T3 fungicide, but late crops, just coming into flower, are at the right stage to treat now.

Aphids can be found on the flag leaves in some crops but need treating only if they go onto the ear and exceed the threshold level of five per ear. Most years, predators and fungi deal with them before they become a problem.

Spring barley
Once awns have fully emerged it is probably worth applying a T2 fungicide. Rhynchosporium and brown rust are the main threats, depending on variety.

Beans and peas
Watch for rust starting to develop on beans, especially if a second fungicide was not applied; it can spread very rapidly in warm weather and needs urgent treatment.

Peas are coming into flower. Monitor crops for aphids; they will not be easily visible as they go up into the flowers and you need to pull the petals aside to find them.

Winter barley
Early crops are starting to change colour. In the run-up to harvest it is worth checking for perennial weeds such as couch grass and onion couch.

Pre-harvest treatment with glyphosate is the best opportunity for control, provided that the weeds have plenty of green leaf. Wait for grain to be below 30% moisture content. If appropriate, check that seed or malting contracts allow treatment.

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13 June 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonWheat crops have moved rapidly in the last week with most fields now at early flowering. This is the ideal timing for a final T3 fungicide particularly if targeting fusarium.

The new EU levels for mycotoxins in milling wheat should be considered when considering what T3 to apply and a risk assessment can help the decision.

Despite the late T2 application it is usually cost effective to apply an ear fungicide even if the gap is relatively small. The delay in T2 has allowed some septoria to be expressed where the interval was stretched which further highlights the need for a top up fungicide.

The rapid change in wheat growth has meant that most crops have escaped the need to treat for orange blossom midge. However some fields have recorded significant catches in pheromone traps and have required treatment in local areas.

Generally catches have been low negating the need for treatment. Backward crops which have not yet reached flowering should still be monitored for the pest.

Spring barley crops have awns emerged and a few forward crops have reached full ear emergence. The rain in May gave a good boost to the spring barley raising potential but the crop must be protected to achieve a good quality sample for malting.

Crops where the T1 fungicide was well time remain clean but any delay has seen a build up of rhychosporium which must be controlled.

Bean crops are flowering well and second fungicide applications for rust are being applied. Peas and forward crops of linseed are approaching flowering and should be consider for a fungicide.

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6 June 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsWhat a difficult spring/early summer it has been. Some farms in this area recorded over 4 inches of rain over the period 19-21 May, and as is always the case with wheat, the weather that causes a delay in spraying is also winding up the septoria pressure.

All but the most backward wheat crops have received their flag leaf application. With high doses of triazole being used, hopefully we will have been in time to arrest the development of septoria and the potential of the crops will be maintained.

High winds and rain have caused some barley crops to lodge, particularly on livestock units where the inherent fertility is high. Although adjustments to the total N applied have been made, the effect of the high fertility is too much N too early in the development of the crop, leading to excessive straw production.

Winter oilseed rape has finished flowering and pod development appears to be very good, with little or no pest damage seen in most crops.

Most forage maize crops are due their herbicide, but the wind, rain and recent very low night time temperatures have transformed most crops from perfect green young plants to pale yellow stressed plants that need to recover before they can be sprayed.

Hopefully the current hot spell will bring this turnaround fairly rapidly as weeds in most crops continued to grow well while the crop has suffered.

Is it my imagination or has there been a large increase in the number of crops exhibiting some degree of fertiliser striping this year, even on units with a good track record of accurate application?

Is this due to poor application or a reduction in quality or specification of the fertiliser products? I would welcome some feedback.

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30 May 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamOne week after the last report, the heavens opened and we have since experienced 4-5 inches of rain and when it has not been raining it has been extremely windy. Apart from the occasional warm day, temperatures have also been cool.

Spraying of all crops has been very difficult if not impossible either due to overhead conditions or fields so wet that travelling has been impossible.

Spring crops
Downy mildew is being found in most varieties of spring beans, with chocolate spot also evident, will apply Folio Gold (chlorothalonil + metalaxyl-M) as soon as conditions allow.

Spring barley is approaching flag leaf emergence with approximately 50% crops not having received a T1 fungicide due to conditions, although most are showing little if any signs of disease.

T1 converted to T2 will base upon Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole) and add either Talius (proquinazid) or Bravo (chlorothalonil) or both for reduction of a biotic spotting and control of mildew if visible symptoms.

Winter wheat
The appalling weather has led T2 being stretched to over four weeks and has approached five weeks in some cases, with most growers snatching tank loads whenever possible.

Cool weather and robust T1 sprays have meant that crops showing low levels of septoria with most having no visible disease on leaves 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Early crops now have ears 20% emerged, last week was spent reviewing and adjusting rates of fungicide upwards.

Where ears are emerging, T2 will be based upon pyraclostrobin and prothioconozole/ tebuconozole mixes this will give the most robust option in terms of curative and protectant disease control.

Monitor crops for Orange Wheat Blossom Midge – conditions at moment are too cold and windy, but plenty of moisture will be conducive to hatch.

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23 May 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinHigh winds and heavy rain this week have pushed over some winter barley crops and with 100mm of rain so far in May, there is increased risk from wet-weather diseases.

Winter wheat
Septoria is the major threat. T2 fungicides need to be applied once the flag leaves are 50% to fully emerged. Keep to this timing even where T1 was delayed and ensure that the gap between T1 and T2 is no more than four weeks.

Triazole rates must be kept up and susceptible varieties will benefit from chlorothalonil in the mix.

Mildew is also increasing so the addition of a mildewicide is a good idea in susceptible varieties. This can all make for a very costly mix!

Crops will need monitoring for orange wheat blossom midge during ear emergence and up to flowering. Pheromone traps, sticky traps or crop walking on calm, warm evenings will give an assessment of the risk.

If treatment is necessary, there is a choice between Dursban (chlorpyrifos) and Hallmark Zeon (lambda-cyhalothrin) but remember that both will kill many non-target species.

Spring barley
Rhynchosporium is favoured by rain and mildew by humid conditions, so ensure good levels of protection and treat early rather than waiting to see disease in the crop.

Winter beans
Beans are at the early flowering stage and ready for their first chocolate spot/rust fungicide. This is a good opportunity to add trace elements where needed.

Winter oilseed rape
If not already treated, check seed weevil infestation; many crops have very high levels and an insecticide can be added to a mid-flower fungicide.

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16 May 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable (UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonThe welcome rain will help plants access nutrients, improving crop health, as flag leaves emerge on forward wheat crops.

The rain will also encourage the spread of Septoria tritici from the base of the plant up to newly emerging leaves.

Flag leaves are emerging on forward crops, the key target for the main fungicide timing. The flag leaf and leaf two contribute at least 60% to final yield and so it is important to protect these leaves before disease develops and not delay treatments due to recent applications of the T1 fungicide.

Septoria tritici remains the major disease target, and recent rain “splash” events highlight the need to include a good curative triazole in T2 treatments.

Most T1 fungicides applications were well targeted at leaf three in good conditions producing visually clean crops as we approach T2 but mildew can be found in susceptible varieties in thick forward crops.

Final nitrogen is being applied to feed wheat, but on milling varieties – particularly some of the new milling wheats – differing requirements of nitrogen are needed to achieve their yield potential and then will require an additional 30-40kg of nitrogen for protein enhancement if growing for a particular end market.

Ears are starting to emerge in forward winter barley crops and the second fungicide is being planned for application once the ears are targetable.

Spring barley crops are receiving the first fungicide when weather allows. A robust fungicide mix at this timing gives the best return, setting the crop and yield potential up.

Oilseed rape is in full flower and with both Sclerotinia and seed weevils numbers increasing then the final flowering fungicide with and insecticide is being applied.

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9 May 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsThe last fortnight has seen crops move through the growth stages at an alarming rate. From being two to three weeks behind most crops are now exactly where we would expect them to be at this time of year.

Winter wheats have now received their T1 application. Within the next week most crops will be at GS37 and will be getting their final dose of nitrogen, followed shortly by the flag leaf fungicide.

Some of the later drilled or rabbit damaged crops are really struggling this season, partly due to the late start to spring and partly due to lack of moisture.

The lack of rainfall has caused some patchy emergence in later drilled spring barleys and spring oilseed rape crops. Rain is forecast and we can only hope that it arrives.

The winter oilseed rape crop is looking very well with very few pests present. We are averaging only 1-2 pollen beetle per plant. Some crops have buttery coloured flowers indicating a shortage of sulphur.

Winter barleys have grown well and some of the six row varieties are now receiving a late season growth regulator, prior to getting their T2 fungicide in a week’s time.

Maize drilling has moved on swiftly with most crops going into good seedbeds. Rain will be needed to get this crop off to a good start.

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2 May 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamWarmer weather during the last 10 days has seen most crops growing well and ground conditions are generally dry. All spring crops are now drilled with last beet drilled at beginning of last week, potato planting should be completed this week.

Winter Barley
Forward crops are at flag leaf fully emerged and the majority are at flag leaf emerging. Very little disease is present.

Crops requiring Terpal (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid + mepiquat chloride) will be sprayed this week, with majority to receive T2 next week when awns at least 1-2cm emerged.

T2 spray will be either Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole) or Amistar opti (azoxystrobin + chlorothalonil) + Proline (prothioconazole), both of these mixes will cover for late rusts or rhynchosporium with the chlorothalonil in Opti helping with a biotic spotting if perceived to be an issue.

Winter Wheat
Final nitrogen split is being applied over next 7-10 days. September-sown Einstein has flag leaf emerging on main stems with majority of crops at leaf two emerging.

T1 sprays will be completed this week on late sown wheat’s. Tracker (boscalid + epoxiconazole) is being used where eyespot is a problem (primarily September-sown wheats) or Proline with rates according to sowing dates and disease profile. Where mildew has been present (albeit at low levels) Flexity (metrafenone) added to T1 mix.

T2 sprays will be primarily based upon pyraclostrobin+epoxiconazole. HGCA work also suggests that prothioconazole+tebuconazole looks to be a good combination in terms of protectant and curative ability.

Rates and choice of product will be based upon T1 products, weather and length of time between T1-T2, with main criteria to start three weeks after T1 spray dependant upon growth stage of crop.

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25 April 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinAt last we have some proper spring weather encouraging rapid crop growth.

Winter wheat
Most crops have final leaf three emerging so a T1 fungicide should be applied over the next few days. Crops on colder sites may need to wait a little longer.

Septoria is the main disease present, with mildew restricted to older growth on susceptible varieties. Several crops have high levels of eyespot (even in first wheat) although it is not yet penetrating into the stem.

In these circumstances it is a good idea to use either Proline (prothioconazole) or Venture (boscalid/epoxiconazole) at T1. Both will give eyespot control and also excellent control of septoria.

Winter barley
Flag leaves are emerging on forward crops so any late growth regulators need to be applied now before awns start to show.

T2 fungicides will be due soon but it’s preferable to allow the awns to emerge first. Net blotch is showing on most crops and rhynchosporium is beginning to appear on Pearl. Little mildew is apparent yet.

Spring beans
Weevil are moving into crops, so look out for characteristic notching around the leaf margins. Adults lay eggs in the soil and the larvae then feed on the root nodules of the bean so if significant feeding is seen, apply an insecticide. It is often necessary to repeat the treatment two to three weeks later.

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18 April 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonThe continued cool weather has held back crop development with leaf 4 emerging only the most forward crops. The first split of growth regulator, with chlorothalonil, has been applied but stem extension remains slow in the cool conditions.

The main target of the T1 fungicide is leaf 3 which is still 7-10 days away on forward crops and possibly two weeks away on colder more exposed fields. Currently disease levels remain low but the showers will allow Septoria tritici to spread even if the symptoms will not be express quickly in cool conditions. Mildew is also present on susceptible varieties but only in the base of the crop on old leaves. 

Second doses of nitrogen are being applied but with above average soil nitrogen then it may be possible to make small savings in application and cost. 

Winter barley crops are at GS 30 and T1 fungicides are being planned with net blotch and rhynchosporium being the main targets. The cold dry conditions have limited disease development but net blotch is the most common disease particularly in Pearl.

Spring barley crops are establishing well with weeds now emerging but growth remains slow. The last dose of nitrogen should be applied now to malting barley and if not already applied should contain sulphur. The higher soil nitrogen levels and the later establishing crops suggests that malting barley may require less nitrogen depending upon variety, soil type and grain nitrogen target.

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11 April 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsA fortnight ago we went from full-on winter to full-on spring in the space of 24 hours with a temperature swing of about 12 degrees. We witnessed the most incredible change in fields that I can ever recall.

January-drilled wheat went from the point of emerging to green fields and oilseed rape crops that had been small, frost bitten and still in visible rows went to total ground cover.

Most wheat crops have received their T0 fungicide along with early growth regulator and micro-nutrients. Most wheats drilled last autumn are at growth stage 30-31, with later drilled crops anywhere from just emerged to mid tillering.

Recent mild weather has accelerated the speed latent septoria is expressing itself and even Alchemy is now beginning to look quite diseased on the lower leaves.

The same is true in barley where rhynchosporium is now expressing itself very rapidly. Most crops will receive their T1 applications in the next week or so with the emphasis very much on rhyncho control but with Brown rust an ever present risk.

Oilseed rape is on the verge of breaking into flower and in most cases will be receiving its final fungicide and a dose of Boron. Sclerotinia is not yet a problem, so we tend not to spray beyond stem extension.

Spring barley, because of the adverse weather, has tended to be later drilled this year and care will need to be taken with nitrogen inputs to ensure we get the best out of these crops.

Before I write again much of the maize crop will have been drilled. I urge all growers to ensure they deal with any compaction prior to planting and not to be tempted to drill early for the sake of it, but to wait until seedbed conditions and soil temperatures are correct.

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4 April 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamAfter the very early and warm autumn all crops are now approximately 2 weeks behind their normal growth stages.

Spring crops
Approximately 30% of the beet has been drilled, all of which is confined to light land, as heavier land is still either too wet and or too cold. Crops that were drilled w/c 20 & 27 March went in very well and have good root shoots.

Majority of spring barley and spring wheat is drilled and is emerging quite rapidly; all nitrogen should have been applied to malt spring barley.

Winter OSR
All crops have had their T1 nitrogen predominantly as ammonium sulphate, crops have just started to pull away in the last week with the majority at full green bud and some starting to extend.

Most crops will need a PGR in the form of metconazole or tebuconazole, and dependant on speed of growth will be applied during next fortnight. As yet no visible signs of pollen beetle.

Winter barley
Most crops have received the 1st nitrogen top dressing and are showing signs of growing away from the cold spell. Disease levels are low except for Siberia, which has quite high levels of net blotch.

Winter wheat
Other than late sown crops, the majority have not received first N dressing yet, and all looking very green, most top dressing will commence this week. In most cases total N rate will be reduced.

Most forward wheat’s are early sown Robigus (GS 31) and Einstein (GS 30-31) and will need a growth regulator this week weather and temps depending.

Septoria is visible on the majority of crops and eyespot can be found on Claire after oilseed rape, Robigus if early sown, with Einstein showing the highest and most visible symptoms.

Mildew is visible on Claire and Robigus at similar levels (I strongly disagree with the (8) rating it should have been brought back to a minimum of 5 or 6).

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28 March 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinEach of the last four days has seen maximum temperatures above 12C and minimum above 5C so crop growth will now start in earnest.

Oilseed rape
There is little disease present and as stem extension has only just commenced, growth regulator fungicides can be held back for some time yet.

Warmer conditions favour the use of Galera (clopyralid + picloram) for cleavers and mayweed control but wait for the cleavers to start active growth and to have fresh green leaf. Treat before flower buds show above the crop canopy.

Wheat
Early drilled crops are well tillered but growth has been held back by the prolonged cold period. High levels of septoria can be found on older leaves plus mildew on some varieties. A T0 fungicide is advisable along with a split rate of growth regulator.
Wheat often grows away from early mildew infection but a low rate of mildewicide is worth adding at this stage on susceptible varieties.

In late-drilled crops, there is little time for further tillering but a split dose of chlormequat will help to even-up the few tillers that have developed.

Where grass weeds are still to be controlled, conditions are now favourable for Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium), which can be mixed with some T0 fungicides.

Cereals after grass – watch out for leatherjacket damage i.e. plant death in patches across the field. Cranefly numbers were very high in autumn and as the larvae grow bigger, crop damage will become more apparent.

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21 March 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonOutstanding blackgrass treatments should be targeted at the earliest opportunity since control will decline as weeds reach the end of tillering.

The cool conditions have limited growth but now that day length is increasing, outstanding treatments would be best applied as soon as any growth is initiated and by the end of March at the latest.

September and early October-drilled crops have generally established well with plenty of tillers, this will increase the risk of lodging. Over a number of years split growth regulators have provided the best lodging control but treatments will need targeting to variety and field conditions.

Despite the dry conditions, Septoria tritici can be readily found at the base of most wheat crops. In our western region, where Septoria tritici is an endemic problem, we prefer this inoculum to be reduced using chlorothalonil before the main T1 fungicide timing.

The slow start to spring growth means that many winter oilseed rape crops are barely starting stem extension and the need to control the canopy growth will therefore be later than previous years.

The ideal plant populations established in many crops provide good yield potential which will require careful management especially if targeting 5t/ha or above.

Spring barley drilling is almost complete and in ideal dry conditions. Early-drilled crops are just starting to emerge but all crops are waiting for warmer weather. Attention is turning to spring pulses but it is still too cold for small seeded crops such as linseed and spring oilseed rape.

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14 March 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsWith the recent cold weather crops are less advanced than they have been in recent years but there has been a significant change in the last week with some milder conditions.

Winter wheats are looking well and varying in growth stage between early tillering for the later drilled crops and GS30 for some of the early drilled crops.

Septoria levels on the older leaves are generally high with the exception being Alchemy which is altogether cleaner than any other variety. T0 applications of chlorothalonil, growth regulator and trace elements are targeted to be applied to the more forward crops in the next 7-10 days.

Autumn broadleaved weed control has been good with less need for a spring follow up than usual. Particularly impressive has been the level of cleaver control achieved by Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) from October and November applications.

Winter barleys are now beginning to put on some “spring growth” and are looking like they need their first application of nitrogen. I hope the current wet spell will let up soon or some barley crops will start to go backwards.

Rhynchosporium levels are normal for this time of year and will need controlling on time to prevent possible problems later in the season. In recent years a split T1 or T0 application has become quite popular in controlling rhyncho.

As with septoria in wheat, this approach gives a level of insurance against a delayed T1 timing which can be catastrophic with the ryncho pressure we suffer from in the Southwest

Oilseed rape crops that at one stage had big canopies are now a shadow of their former selves and will require early nitrogen to generate canopy and replace nitrogen taken up in autumn and early winter that has been lost in the massive loss of biomass the crop has experienced.

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7 March 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamSnow during the last week of February/first week March has made conditions unsuitable to apply fertiliser or drill spring wheat/barley.

Overall, crops are very green showing that residual nitrogen levels must be high, and as a result we are likely to cut back on total N inputs with the total being determined with our final split.

Spring Crops
Very few crops drilled have been drilled, as conditions (other than being dry) have not been ideal. Wait for suitable conditions to allow crops to grow away quickly. Sugar beet ground should work down well after winter ploughing.

Winter oilseed rape
Where pigeon damage is severe we will apply 40kg N/ha this week dependant on conditions. Other than these crops, we will leave first application of nitrogen for a week or so, again dependant upon conditions.

Where crops are forward we will apply Folicur (tebuconazole)/ Caramba (metconazole) for growth regulatory effect at early green bud stage, which will probably be towards the end of this month.

Winter Barley
Crops have come through winter well, frost has reduced mildew infections dramatically but most crops are showing quite a lot of net blotch. We will be looking to apply main nitrogen split towards the end of the month.

Winter Wheat
Mid-September sown Robigus is at GS30, with Einstein coming a close second. Growth regulators will need to be applied this month, but warm conditions are needed, if conditions are cool, there may be an argument to use Meteor (chlormequat, choline chloride + imazaquin).

Second/ continuous Einstein is showing signs of eyespot but not penetrating as yet, a wet warm March/April will require early-sown crops to be carefully monitored.

Fields requiring Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) for Italian ryegrass control will need to be sprayed this month. Late sown crops after beet will receive 40kg N/ha this week dependant upon conditions, but the bulk of crops will receive no N until end of the month.

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28 February 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinTemperatures over the last seven days have reached a maximum of 6C and a minimum of -2C, so there is little crop growth at present.

A decision has to be made about early nitrogen on cereal crops. Forward crops are looking very green, are well rooted and have five or six tillers. With the low winter rainfall it is debatable whether these crops will need nitrogen until April.

Later drilled crops, particularly second wheats, which are shallow-rooted and backward, will benefit from a more traditional, early March treatment.

Many wheat crops have high levels of Septoria tritici and a T0 treatment, based on chlorothalonil, is likely to prove worthwhile. A low dose of mildew protectant can be included where there is a high risk. This will be applied around the middle to the end of March.

Most barley is looking thick and lush, so later N and an early growth regulator are advisable.

Oilseed rape crops are mostly well developed, though many have been grazed hard by pigeons. It is very important to keep pigeons off the crop from now on; as grazing in March has the greatest affect on yield and invariably leads to uneven ripening.

The dry conditions give a good opportunity to plough prior to maize – there is still time for weathering to take place and so reduce subsequent cultivations.

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21 February 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonCheck fields for outstanding weed problems to allow a planned spring approach. Any remaining blackgrass treatments should now be applied as spring growth starts. It is important to target weeds at the earliest opportunity providing conditions are good for growth.

Cereal crops are greening up as temperatures rise and with plenty of tillers will require a carefully planned growth regulator and nitrogen approach. Nitrogen applications need to be planned depending upon the variety, crop structure and size at the start of spring growth. The utilisation of nitrogen by the plant is dependent on having some sulphur present. Cereal crops require around 50 kg/ha SO3, so sulphur fertiliser should be applied to ‘top up’ the sulphur available to the crop from the soil.

Winter rape crops vary greatly in size and growth habit. Most crops established well in the autumn and are still carrying leafy canopies despite opening up over the winter. However there are also some more backward crops which have been attacked by pigeons which have little green leaf area.

Nitrogen is fundamental in creating a winter rape canopy and its yield is much more sensitive to canopy size than wheat.  Applying nitrogen can increase yield on smaller crops but also decrease yield if too much canopy is produced, so care must be taken. The rates and timing of nitrogen applications will need to be tailored to individual field situations to try and achieve maximum returns.

Spring barley drilling was progressing well into dry soil until the recent rain. Spring barley can be drilled at any time providing soil conditions are good but do not maul crops in.

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14 February 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems, Devon
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsFollowing the recent cold and (almost unprecedented) dry spell of weather there has been little change in the state of most crops.

This has helped to check the development of Septoria and Rynchosporium in wheat and barley respectively. The dry spell has also enabled a lot of catching up.

Late-drilled crops have received a herbicide and most winter combinable crops have received their Phosphate and Potash applications. Preparation is well under way on many farms for spring cropping, with lime and farm yard manure/slurry going on.

With a large part of my area in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, there is much concern about the outcome of the NVZ review, particularly in respect to extended closed periods for spreading of organic manures.

This will have a major cost implication on many farms where slurry/FYM storage facilities will need upgrading to cope with closed periods.

The net effect of extending the closed periods for spreading organic manures will be to concentrate the period in which they will be spread, increasing risks of environmental impact, as the total amount of organic manure is not likely to reduce just because it can’t be spread.

Livestock farmers need help and information, not regulation to deal with this problem. I hope that some level of common sense might prevail but I’m not holding my breath.

In the post-atrazine era, maize growers need to have a more planned approach to weed control in the crop. Now, before planting, is the time to start thinking about this problem and discuss with your advisor the best approach for your farm. Knowing the weed problem in advance will help to plan the best strategy.

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7 February 2006

Bryce Rham – Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Shropshire
(Click to contact)

Bryce RhamAlthough temps have increased over the weekend, the long dry, cold spell has allowed P&K applications to be made to the majority of crops.

Drilling of spring barley and beans will take place this week if dry conditions continue. If cleavers are a problem then Centium (clomazone) will be used as a pre-emergence herbicide.

Oilseed rape crops are generally forward, although conditions over the last two months have slowed growth. Pigeon damage is quite severe in some crops and the main problem is that part fields have been grazed which is likely to lead to uneven ripening.

Where damage is significant low rates of nitrogen will be applied in mid-February, otherwise the bulk of the first application will be held back until March.

Winter wheat crops that were very forward in the run up to December have been held back due to the cold conditions, with no crops as forward as last spring.

In general the cold conditions have significantly reduced mildew and septoria levels, but there are significant levels visible on Robigus, Claire and early sown Einstein.

Where crops were unsprayed from the autumn I will now be looking to use either:

  • Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) (for fields with well tillered Annual meadow grass and/or Italian ryegrass and Wild oats)
  • Isoproturon/ diflufenican mixes (for late-sown wheat’s with low levels of AMG + broad leaved weeds)
  • Hussar (iodosulfuron) – where autumn spray applied and main target is IRG and cleavers
  • Axial (pinoxaden) – where autumn spray applied and looking to control a mix of IRG and wild oats.

Soil protection reviews must be completed by 1 October and ensure that NVZ paperwork is up to date.

All staff/contractors must be conversant with the cross compliance regulations. Ensure they do not spread fertiliser/FYM on these margins or cultivate them. Ensure that all hedge cutting is completed by the end of Feb.

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30 January 2006

Neil Donkin – Countrywide, Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

neil donkinCereals
Crops are dormant after a month of low temperatures. Those that were drilled in good time have developed well and in some cases, particularly barley, are probably too thick. Care will need to be taken when considering early nitrogen as it will not be needed to encourage tillering.

Late-drilled crops, which fell foul of low November temperatures, have not developed as well and early nitrogen will help tiller development.

Crops can still be treated with residual herbicides if necessary, though where blackgrass is still present it may be better to wait for a later treatment with Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium).

High levels of net blotch in many barley crops will have to be taken care of with the first fungicide later in spring.

Oilseed rape
It is now too late to apply Kerb (propyzamide) for weed control so if grass weeds are still present, a contact graminicide is the only option. Leaf drop due to the cold weather will allow penetration of the spray into the crop but it would be advisable to allow conditions to warm-up before application.

Now is a good time to check crops for cleavers infestation. These can be treated up to flower bud emergence using Galera (clopyralid + picloram). Again, wait for warmer weather.

Spring beans
Some growers are thinking of planting now. It seems too early as the ground is very cold – there is still plenty of time for severe weather and seed will be in danger of rotting.

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24 January 2006

Tim Horton – Masstock Arable(UK), Gloucestershire
(Click to contact)

Tim HortonCrops are still in winter mode with little sign of growth or significant change happening. It is however a good time to assess how well autumn herbicides have worked and start to identify areas that will need spraying.

Oilseed rape crops have opened up and it is now possible to target any outstanding weeds when conditions allow.

Planning early spring inputs is the key for current management. Assessing rape crops in particular, for population and canopy size, could allow savings in nitrogen to be made.

Large canopy rape crops can hold significant amounts of nitrogen within the canopy at the start of stem extension and it is important that this is taken into account when calculating the nitrogen requirement for the crop.

When planning your nitrogen strategy do not forget the sulphur, since crops in high risk areas may need up to 100kg SO3 /ha.

Despite the relatively dry winter, conditions remain on the sticky side for drilling spring barley. Although crops can be drilled now, soil conditions should be the determining factor in deciding upon when to start drilling.

Overwintered stubbles cannot be touched until after 14 February.

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17 January 2006

Neil Potts – Matford Arable Systems (Devon)
(Click to contact)

Neil PottsMost crops are coming through the winter relatively well, apart from later-drilled min-till crops where the soil structure is not good.

The weather has thrown quite a lot of extremes at us this year with almost 200mm (eight inches) of rainfall in a fortnight during November, followed by snow and then an unusually cold spell prior to Christmas.

Winter oilseed rape is looking very well this year, largely as a consequence of having been drilled on time. Phoma levels have been quite high and many crops have already received two fungicide applications.

Earlier drilled winter wheat is now carrying high levels of Septoria tritici almost irrespective of variety – the new variety Alchemy is no exception, despite its high septoria rating.

Late drilled wheats have taken 6-8 weeks to emerge due to the cold snap in December but crop establishment on the whole has been surprisingly good.

Sterile brome control with Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) this autumn has been remarkably good and much better than we have come to expect from specialist spring sulfonylurea brome control.

Winter barley crops have established well and are generally well tillered despite the wet and then frozen ground conditions.

The winter oat crop, which is an important break for us in the southwest, has again established well and early applied grass and broadleaved weed control has worked well.

As I write, we are enjoying a slightly milder spell of weather and crops are now growing. The potential for good crops this year is there but an awful lot will depend on the combination of good season and better commodity prices.

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View last season’s Crop Watch reports:
Autumn/ winter 2005
Spring/ summer 2005

Crop Watch – West/SW

Tim Horton – Cleanacres

Recent showers will have encouraged Septoria tritici to spread up the plant on to emerging leaves. For most crops in the West, leaf three is now emerging, so the timing of the T1 spray will be critical to keep this disease at bay.

Leaf three is the main target of the T1 fungicide. Where a pre-T1 has been used, this will reduce the initial disease pressure on the crop, giving growers a little flexibility in their T1 timing. But the recent spread of septoria will require a good curative element in any fungicide treatment.

As a multi-site fungicide, including chlorothalonil with a triazole is a good choice early on, and provides a useful anti-resistance strategy. But septoria is only part of the disease matrix crops in the west will be facing.

The damp conditions will have brought on eyespot infection, especially in early-drilled crops, second wheats and susceptible varieties (Soissons, Solstice and Hereward). I‘ve also seen plenty of mildew on some susceptible varieties.

This will generally mean a robust T1 is needed, and the addition of prothioconazole is particularly well-suited to the current range of problems, being a good septoria and eyespot product.

Winter barley crops have reached GS31 and need the T1 spray. This is the most important fungicide timing in barley, setting up the potential for the whole crop. Net blotch, particularly in Pearl, and rhynchosporium are the main targets.

For both wheat and barley, current warm weather and soil moisture will encourage rapid growth, so I‘d advise adding an early growth regulator to the T1 fungicide.

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12 April 2005

Joss Wood – Independent Arable Advisor
(Click to contact)

Winter wheats are looking well, but starting to appear “hungry” for their first main nitrogen split, which is now being applied.

Magnesium and manganese deficiency are showing up widely, especially on the high pH soils of Dorset and Wiltshire, and are receiving suitable trace elements at T0/T1 timing, to help correct this.

Recent heavy rain has increased the pressure from Septoria tritici, justifying the use of a T0 fungicide on early drilled susceptible varieties, together with cleaver control where necessary.

A further flush of wild oats is emerging, and will be controlled atT1 fungicide timing. Winter barley is also under pressure from Rynchosporium due to recent rains, increasing the urgency to apply T1 fungicides during the coming 7-10 days, at GS 31/32.

Winter oats are looking well, but beginning to look starved of nitrogen – not altogether a bad thing in view of the high level of mildew present six weeks ago, which has largely been “controlled” by recent cold weather.

Nitrogen top dressing is planned for a week‘s time. Crown rust is not present yet, but at GS31+ is likely, especially on the Isle of Wight, where control is essential at the very first sign of the disease!

Spring crops have had the best start for many years, with strong, even emergence. Spring barleys are now at the 3-4+ leaf stage and have received Nitrogen top dressing. Plan to spray out flush of weeds at earliest opportunity, together with early Growth Regulator/Manipulator.

Spring beans and peas have established well and are being monitored for bean weevil and thrip – little activity at moment. No further action planned on winter oilseed rape until early to mid flowering.

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5 April 2005

Bryce Rham – PROCROP
(Click to contact)

Sugar Beet:
Some 75% is now sown, with earliest crops at cotyledon stage. Slugs and leatherjackets have been found in some crops (one crop needed an immediate application of chlorpyriphos). Second nitrogen doses should be applied as soon as crop is at cotyledon stage.

Winter OSR:
Most forward crops (Winner & Castile) are starting to flower. Crops are now receiving an application of Folicur (tebuconazole) + Mavrik (tau-fluvalinate) for growth regulator purposes and pollen beetle. Always apply in late afternoon and warn local beekeepers 24hrs in advance when spraying insecticides on rape.

Second nitrogen application should be finished by end of this week (w/e 10/04/05), before the crop gets too tall.

Winter Barley:
Most varieties are now at GS 30-31. Net blotch incidence is about 5%, and rhynchosporium at lower levels. Mildew is also evident, but cold February/ early March weather has generally reduced incidence.

Winter wheat:
Most forward crops seen this week are at GS 32 (Claire after potatoes sown September 10). Einstein sown at the end of September is also forward at GS 31. Penetrating eyespot is visible on Einstein in some situations. The first nitrogen applications began on March 28.

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29 March 2005

Neil Donkin – Countrywide
(Click to contact)

There is great variation in wheat disease levels. Early-drilled crops, approaching GS 30, are carrying high levels of septoria tritici on older leaves. This needs to be subdued with a T0 fungicide.

Mildew levels vary depending on variety and location; Claire and Solstice in sheltered fields are particularly bad. Crops often grow away from early mildew, so unless clearly active, re-assess the problem in time for T1.

Later-drilled crops are prostrate with few, spindly tillers; split rates of chlormequat will help tiller development here.

Barley has net blotch and rhynchosprorium and it will soon be time for T1 treatments; 10mm of rain in the last two days has increased the risk from both diseases.

Check oats for active mildew; it needs controlling now.

Manganese deficiency is showing up. Manganese can be added to T0 treatments and again at T1, if necessary.

Oilseed rape has changed dramatically in the past two weeks. Many crops are approaching green bud and while disease levels are very low, in many cases, because of plant density, they require growth regulation.

Watch out for pollen beetles; on one farm this week I found ten or more in almost every flower head.

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22 March 2005

Tim Horton – Cleanacres (part of Masstock Group)
(Click to contact)

Warmer weather after the recent cold snap has brought crops racing on. Forward wheats have finished tillering and started stem extension, so the priorities should be early disease control and growth regulators.

There is plenty of septoria inoculum in crops, and we‘re strongly recommending growers apply a T0 triazole or chlorothalonil. Also check crops for mildew, since levels were high before the cold snap.

Some frost lift has occurred, particularly on chalk soils, and here rolling will help anchor plants.

Patchy or backward crops will benefit from an early split PGR during tillering to improve rooting and even up growth. An early dose of nitrogen will help them approach target tiller numbers.

Outstanding blackgrass treatments must be applied at the earliest opportunity since control will decline as weeds reach the end of tillering.

Oilseed rape crops are at last starting rapid stem extension – later than last year, due to recent cold weather. Growers may need to apply an appropriate fungicide to check growth.

Nitrogen and sulphur dressings should be going on, and growers should check potash and boron levels.

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