North: Winter wheat fantastically clean

Crops have generally responded well after good levels of rain fell during May. Winter wheat crops now look much more respectable and now have a higher yield potential compared to a few months ago. However, the pleasing sight of wafting fields of winter barley and flowering oilseed rape seen from the roadside tend to hide the truth of crops being too thin or patchy.

Winter wheat crops look fantastically clean throughout the crop canopy. No doubt these lower leaves will contribute more to yield in these thinner crops to help maximise the yield potential. Yellow rust on susceptible varieties can be seen right on to the flag leaves from spray misses around the edge of fields or around telegraph poles. It really goes to show how well the fungicides do work even in what has been a low disease year.

With ears emerging now attention is focussing on the T3 fungicides. Thankfully with crops so clean there is no need to chase disease so the T3 fungicide will serve to top up foliar disease control and fusarium where required. T3 fungicide choice will be largely based around the triazoles.

Keep monitoring for orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) until the crop has flowered on susceptible varieties. The risk is thought to be low this year, but OWBM tends to occur in hotspots, so it will be worthwhile to keep checking.

Spring barley crops generally fall into two categories. The earlier drilled crops often look thin and patchy compared to the much thicker and lusher later drilled fields. Awns are emerging now so the T2 fungicide will soon be applied. The T1 fungicide has worked well, so the T2 will serve to protect the new growth, provide ramularia control and prevent late season brown rust on susceptible varieties. The recent unsettled weather will also have increased the rhynchosporium pressure.

The phrase “no two years are the same” could not be more true for winter beans. This time last year crops were taller than me, whereas this year my 6 foot 5” frame has to crouch down to make assessments. These short crops will no doubt cause harvesting difficulties, particularly where fields were ploughed and not levelled, as the lowest pods are almost at ground level.

As the crops are now in full flower, fungicides are being applied to control chocolate spot and prevent any rust. Spring beans generally look much better than their winter counterparts and have begun flowering. Downey mildew is evident in some crops and is requiring specific control. Once first pods have been set be ready to apply an insecticide for bruchid beetle control if temperatures exceed 20C for two consecutive days.

Planning for next year’s cropping has begun. Putting rotations back into order on some farms is going to take more than a year to correct, but hopefully soil conditions will be dry enough this autumn to allow a lot of remedial work to be carried out.  Judging new varieties alongside tried and tested ones at various trials days is difficult this year, with crops so short and clean. It is more a case of reverting to the Recommended List form guide to see if it is worth taking a gamble on a less well known variety.


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