Crop Watch – East

Latest report

18 July 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyThe season is largely drawing to a close with regards to this year’s crop recommendations. There are one or two outstanding issues to consider such as pre-harvest desiccants, as well as fungicides and bolters in the sugar beet crop.

With regards to pre-harvest desiccants remember not to treat too early, plan for any home saved seed requirements and check approvals on any crops grown to contract.

Do you need a beet fungicide? There are a number of factors as well as cost to be considered, variety, yield potential, lifting date, and likely hood of infection as well as increased options of products to treat with.

If in doubt, it is worth noting that in trials even in low disease years the application of a triazole in late July has increased yields by four adjusted tonnes/ha.

Driving around the countryside, weed beet and bolters need attention in places either by pulling or weed wiping before they set seed.

There seems to be more than usual this year.  I don’t know whether this is a seasonal effect or a sad reflection of the labour available on farms combined with future prospects for the crop.

In what used to be a largely quiet time of year when agronomists could take it easy and ponder starting with a clean sheet next season there are now a number of things to keep us busy in the office whilst listening to Test Match Special.

There is a plethora of management plans to help complete as well as being pushed to order next seasons seed, fertiliser and autumn chemicals to avoid price hikes and disappointments.

There is also time for us to reflect on our successes and failures from the season gone and plan for the next. I would like to finish by wishing all readers a successful harvest.


11 July 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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mark hemmantWith little rain of any significance in the last few weeks, cutworm will require treatment in susceptible crops which have not been irrigated.  Silver Y moth has also been reported in both sugar beet and potatoes.

Some spring bean crops have high levels of black bean aphid which will be worthwhile treating if pod development is not yet complete.

Top of the list for many this week will be oilseed rape desiccation – inspect crops carefully to ensure correct timing. Application in the early morning when humidity levels are high will aid results. Take great care to avoid spray drift.

Although the mildew forecast is low, plan to apply fungicide to sugar beet for ‘physiological’ yield benefits. Plans should also be made to deal with weedy beet.

In winter wheat, the flag leaf treatment is running out of steam and brown rust is appearing in crops not sprayed at T3.

As well as preparing for harvest now would also be a good time to book the sprayer in for a service and think about nozzle choice for the coming season – it can have a big impact on herbicide performance.

The reasons for any poor control of grass-weeds should be considered and resistance testing carried out.


3 July 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollThe high temperatures are causing crops on light soils to progress too quickly though heavy soils are benefiting.

A good, dry flowering period and bright grain-fill time should hopefully balance out a short spring growing period and although overall grain numbers per ear are not high, plant health and tiller counts are good, so predictions are for a good harvest.

Most crops bar vegetables and potatoes are finished. First blight warning came in on 30 June for the coastal Lincs area. Slugs remain active in potatoes.

Potentially big problems with diamond back month in brassicas and silver Y moth in peas have not really materialised, possibly due to the very dry conditions.

Autumn planning meetings are now the priority before harvest begins.

  • Varieties look interesting with many farms wanting to pull away from a great reliance on Robigus with its increasing disease weaknesses – now including very high levels of eyespot in anything drilled in the first three weeks of September. Alchemy does look good despite its brown rust weakness. Oakley looking promising.
  • NK Bravour and Castille still looking the best in OSR
  • New seed dressing TMX (Cruiser) has just received approval and this will be good for broad leaved crops
  • OSR establishment is a big topic of conversation, with most farmers opting for a mixture of establishment systems to cut down failure risk. Increasingly popular is the subsoil mounted seeder with a roller and small set of discs – results have been good
  • Slug control – ideally putting pellets in the previous crop before ear emergence seems to be the more reliable way of gaining control
  • Entry Level Scheme Nutrient and Soil Management Plans are also being put together – though there is a year’s grace from acceptance onto the scheme for these to be completed


27 June 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyWith the exception of late mildew, winter wheat disease levels remain relatively low in the majority of crops.

Traces of septoria can be found on the flag leaf in some varieties where T2 was significantly delayed, the next few weeks may well draw out differences between treatments.

Late September and early October-drilled wheat crops are approaching milky ripe, therefore planned foliar nitrogen applications for milling wheats should be made as and when conditions allow.

If weather is warm and the likelihood of scorch is increased, consider diluting applications or spraying early morning/ late evening.

Grain aphid levels have remained relatively low over the last week, continue to monitor crops and treat if the threshold of 66% of ears infested is reached before the end of grain fill.

Chocolate spot is still proving to be problematic in thick early crops of winter beans, top up control where required and remember to include an active for late season rust.

Check spring pulses for the requirement for a second fungicide. The inclusion of an aphicide may also be required as levels of pea aphid and blackfly have been steadily increasing. Continue to monitor spring beans for bruchid beetle and treat as necessary.

Plan oilseed rape desiccation strategies – where glyphosate application is the main method remember to allow for any home saved seed requirement.

Now is the time to complete any outstanding soil protection reviews before harvest in order to meet the September deadline.


20 June 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxPea moth thresholds have been breached for human consumption pea crops, and those that were drilled early probably have been sprayed with a pyrethroid already.

For those that were drilled later, you will need to stay in touch with the PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation) hotline to obtain the correct spray date.

If pea aphids are a problem at the moth timing, consider a half rate of pirimicarb to add to the tank to control them.

Spring beans have finished flowering after the recent hot weather. Look for signs of Bruchid beetle larvae on the developing pods and consider an approved pyrethroid to control larvae before they hatch out. Control is often difficult to achieve, so past history and experience should be considered.

In grassland it is now too late to spray for good control of perennial thistles and docks this side of the hot summer months. For control now, top to prevent seed shed, and consider an autumn application in September, when fresh growth has been made and the weeds are not under so much moisture stress.

Maize crops are have recovered from their cold start, and are looking much greener than a few weeks ago. Weed control should be complete.

Oilseed rape crops are looking good, and are benefiting from these sunny days. It will not be long before decisions are made about swathing or desiccation before harvest.


13 June 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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mark hemmantForward wheat crops are flowering and beyond the stage for blossom midge control, but continue to check late-drilled crops.

Aphids have been reported in some crops and may warrant treatment if they reach threshold levels (two-thirds tillers infested between the start of flowering to two weeks before the end of grain filling).

The recent spell of hot weather will significantly increase the risk of brown rust, but will not favour the development of yellow rust (although it has been seen in an increasing number of crops).

In some crops the delayed flag leaf treatment has meant that septoria has crept further up the crop than would be liked. Consider application of a T3 fungicide with good activity on septoria and rusts.

Grassweeds are now beginning to appear above the crop canopy so now is a good time to appraise control strategies. In many cases poor control seems to be due to unfavourable weather conditions at/ after application – resistance is not always the cause of poor grassweed control.

Resistance testing early next month will help aid decision making and measure the success of anti-resistance strategies.

Spraying of barley is largely complete although with a rather compressed spray season many crops of spring barley have yet to have their T2 fungicide.

Second fungicide sprays on beans will also need good rust activity. Check crops for pests such as bruchid beetle and aphids.

In set-aside do not be tempted to spray too early – the ideal timing for annual grassweeds is at full heading, whilst best perennial weed control is achieved when weeds are close to flowering.


6 June 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollCrops are bouncing on in the recent warm conditions, but disease levels are likely to see a rapid increase and remaining weeds are growing strongly.

The main contenders for ear wash sprays are:
•Swing Gold (dimoxystrobin/ epoxyconazole – good continued septoria and rust control at a good price
• Prosaro (prothioconazole/ tebuconazole) with obvious pro’s and con’s for both options, more expensive, however septoria may be better, rust and fusarium control is good and perhaps less impact on mycotoxins

Orange blossom midge hatch is also critical factor to consider as ears emerge.

In- crop slug pelleting for fields planned for oilseed rape this autumn has largely taken place.

Looking back on the success and costs of blackgrass control programmes, Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl) has performed well – though Defy (prosulfocarb) will be a very welcome addition.

Other things to consider include reviewing overall costs for this season and also completing ‘Soil Management Plans’ for the Entry Level Scheme.

Check PLANET recommendations for nitrogen against what has actually been used and also check P&K recommendations. Most ‘Soil Protection Reviews’ have been completed.

Direct combining OSR is being considered for increased yield and reduced harvesting costs where appropriate.

Consider treatments for pea moth and aphid for combining peas soon. Drilling vining crops has been a nightmare, some have suffered badly from footrots and weed control has been challenging.


30 May 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxThe weather has not been kind to us recently for applications of flag leaf fungicides. A small number of growers managed to get applications on before the weather broke, but many have been battling between the rain and wind to get onto the fields.

We have now had enough rain for Orange Wheat Blossom Midge (OWBM) to be a possible problem over the next ten days or so. The weather has been cooler compared to some bad OWBM years, so monitoring during early evening for the midge will be necessary if traps have not been set out.

Ears are already out on some wheat varieties drilled in mid-September, so after a late spring, crops have more than made up for lost time.

Remember the new legislation for fusarium and mycotoxin levels come into effect for this harvest, so decisions upon products and rates for ear sprays will be important if the weather continues unsettled.

Winter oilseed rape has lost all flowers, and sunshine is required now for pod fill and a good harvest. There has been some lodging noted in the recent wet and windy weather. Some of this can be put down to frost damage in crops that made rapid growth last autumn.

Crops of beans are now flowering, and fungicides should be considered for control of chocolate spot, bean rust and downy mildew in spring crops.


23 May 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyMost crops, even those drilled in late November, are well beyond full flag leaf emergence.

Where T2 applications have not been made due to weather delays they are now a matter of urgency and should be done ASAP. Make sure you use a tank mix with significant eradicant activity as it could be in excess of 28 days since T1.

There may be the temptation to go for a T2 ½ timing and hit the ear as the crop comes out of booting. This would probably be achievable without yield loss in resistant varieties but trials results sometimes indicate a yield loss on dirtier varieties when this compromise is made. It would also be too early for optimum ear disease control on quality wheats.

Where crops are particularly thick or under stress there has been an increase in mildew in varieties such as Solstice, Robigus and Clare. Check any crops that might fit the bill and use and eradicant mildewicide where required.

Sampling suggests that orange wheat blossom midge levels in the soil are similar to last year in most areas, use risk charts to identify crops at risk and plan control strategies. Be prepared to start monitoring as soon as wheat ears emerge. Soil temperatures to date have been high enough to favour development of the pest.

Sugar Beet FAR treatments have in general been successful, where crops are currently clean watch for late flushes of fat hen and apply a clean up spray if required.

Check pea crops for grassweeds and remember that a seven day interval is required between post emergence broad leaf weed control and a graminicide. Aramo (tepraloxydim) and Laser (cycloxydim) have a 35-day harvest interval so care is needed with vining crops.


16 May 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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Mark HemmantFlag leaf is emerging on forward wheat, whilst late sown crops are at or approaching the T1 timing.

Although not easily found at present, rusts are very likely to be a major problem in the east this year, so ensure flag leaf sprays have good activity by including a rust active strobilurin and triazole.

Last week’s hot weather will have hastened the development of septoria, which is becoming more evident on leaves three and four, particularly of the more susceptible varieties.

Do not be tempted to delay the flag leaf treatment until ear emergence, even if crops were last sprayed in the last two weeks. Mildew is also making a comeback, particularly on late-sown or over-thick crops.

The flag leaf timing will also be the last chance to tidy up wild oats, cleavers and broad-leaved weeds. Particularly in some of the more open crops there has been a recent flush of weeds (including cleavers) so it would be wise to check crops even if they have already been sprayed.

The warmer weather last week brought with it an increase in pest activity. Reports of flea beetle damage in linseed, seed weevil in winter oilseed rape and pea and bean weevil were numerous as well as an increase in aphid sightings.

Beans are beginning to come into flower and with an increase in chocolate spot require their first fungicide treatment. First reports of downy mildew in the spring bean crop have also been received.


9 May 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollCrops are rapidly catching up for lost time and accelerating towards flag leaf which as usual will emerge from the 15-25 May around here, regardless of drilling date. It pays to apply flag leaf sprays immediately the flag leaf starts to tip out.

Whether this speedy, late spring will influence yields probably depends on the weather – moist conditions would be ideal for slow, steady development whereas a serious early drought could spell trouble.

My flag leaf sprays will be based around 0.75ltr epoxyconazole plus chlorothalonil, except where I can reduce rates of epoxyconazole on septoria resistant/ brown rust prone varieties and add in a bit of azoxystrobin for brown rust.

Disease levels are increasing, with Robigus showing high levels of mildew where thick – even after treatment with metrafenone. Yellow rust foci are visible in missed strips.

Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodsulfuron-methyl-sodium) results on blackgrass are good despite the cold, tricky spring.

Sugar beet weed control is proving pretty effective so far with good ‘killing’ conditions. Pre-pelleting heavy land has given good slug kills. A pyrethroid was used on light land to control flea beetle, which was causing problems.

I’m currently busy using PLANET to provide all clients in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones with RB209 compliance reports for nitrogen. Muddy Boots and Farmade systems are proving easy to use. The SoilMan system from Hampshire Arable is good for recording soil assessment and action points for Soil Management Plans.


2 May 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxT1 fungicides programmes have been applied in good conditions. Mildew levels are low mainly due to cool conditions. However this may change during these warmer more humid conditions.

Crops that have had a specific mildewicide should be well protected through to the flag leaf timing.

Yellow rust is conspicuous by its absence. By this time last year it was present in Robigus. This spring has been ideal for the disease to develop, so I am surprised not to have seen it in crops.

Septoria tritici is present on lower leaves, but the T1 fungicide should provide good control on emerging leaves.

Winter oilseed rape has taken its time coming to flower this year, but most crops are now there, although the range is great. The timing for mid-flower disease control is here on the earlier flowering crops, so consideration of past disease incidence should be assessed in conjunction with the weather.

Frost damage on some early auto cast and drilled crops has been noted, and the follow through to harvest will be watched with interest.

Peas are all emerged now, and ironically the gap in growth stage between those that were later drilled is not as great as first expected.

Pea and bean weevil damage is lower this spring than most, and limited to specific crops. Maybe March’s cooler conditions reduced the over wintering populations.

Sugar beet crops can now be ‘rowed’ and follow up herbicide treatments following rainfall will now be essential.


25 April 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyWarmer weather means that most crops drilled before mid-October are now at final leaf three emergence and should have their T1 fungicide if not done already. Septoria and rusts are the main targets.

Make final checks for mildew and eyespot, both diseases have increased in incidence over the past couple of weeks. Adjust tank mixes accordingly if required.

Where broad leaf weed control is required check cut-off dates and if possible tank mix to save passes. Where cleavers are the target, make sure they are growing well and applications are done in good growing conditions.

If Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl) has recently been applied it may pay to delay any further control and reassess at a later date.

Heavy land six-row barleys are moving on at pace, the requirement for further growth regulation should be assessed and applied as soon as possible if required.

Post-emergence weed control is now urgent in early crops of spring barley. Where a grassweed product is required treat as soon as possible and remember to observe any delays required before following up with a hormone or Sulphonyl Urea for broad leaf weed control.

Very early crops may require treatment with an approved chlorothalonil to dampen down rhynchosporium before the first node fungicide timing.

Most oilseed rape crops have finally reached flowering and as a result are no longer at risk from pollen beetle. Vigilance is still required on later and thinner crops where the threshold for treatment is lower.

Keep an eye on peas and beans for notching and treat with approved product if required.

Sugar beet is enjoying the milder weather, as are the weeds! Where starting with FAR doses do not delay treatment and follow up in seven days, delayed treatment will inevitably mean chasing bigger and bigger weeds with spiralling costs.


18 April 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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mark hemmantFinal leaf 3 is emerging on forward crops of wheat – these will need spraying as soon as conditions allow.  High levels of septoria are present in susceptible varieties that did not have aT0 spray.  Active mildew is present in many varieties (including Robigus) and eyespot can easily be found in second and early drilled first wheats.  Yellow rust has just started to be reported and brown rust is common so ensure that a rust active triazole is used on susceptible varieties. On the light soils many crops are also showing signs of manganese deficiency, which should be corrected with the T1 spray.

Winter Barley will also require spraying this week.  Many crops locally have quite high levels of net blotch.

Ensure cleavers and wild oats are tackled at T1 to prevent yield loss.

With a few warmer days, pollen beetles are starting to be observed.  Include a pyrethroid spray with the PGR spray if threshold levels are reached (before flowering).  Latest leaf tissue results show that just over half of crops have boron deficiency.


11 April 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollWheat bulb fly is now showing – it is not too late to spray with dimethoate although rolling can give a better result.

We are rushing to get Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl) sprayed, as timing has been extended, although temperatures are still low (we had a minus 9C on 15 March and four nights this week we have seen frosts).

Chlormequat is going on as daytime temperatures are improving. A lot of T0’s have been bypassed, as crops are clean of disease and the winter has checked a lot for growth regulation.

T1 spray plans are now being put together to go on around the end of April/beginning of May. Although crops are clean, potential for mildew, brown and yellow rust epidemics is high given the susceptibility of present varieties.

Sugar beet is just emerging, though a lot has not been drilled yet. Early sprays will need to be very gentle. Pest damage could be a problem on all spring crops if cool temperatures continue as slow emergence always allows time for damage.

Oilseed rape is looking good – plants are sturdy and bushy after the cold early spring restricted growth, reducing the need for growth regulators on many but the weakest varieties.

First-early potatoes are just about to emerge, with PDQ (diquat + paraquat) about to go on for weed control. New off label approval for scab using fluazinam could be very useful (only for seed crops though).


4 April 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxThe extension for the usage period of Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) into the third week of April is very welcome.

Growers are playing ‘catch up’ in the spring spray programme after a changeable period (either too cold or too windy), and with warmer weather recently, growth regulator timings are here for most wheat crops.

So far disease levels have been held after the cold March, and I am yet to see yellow rust on Robigus. Last year foci were visible by mid-April in time for the T1 fungicide.

Consider the opportunity to add some protectant fungicide to septoria-susceptible wheat varieties when applying growth regulators.

Winter oilseed rape crops are now at the green/yellow bud stage, and for those that are to receive a fungicide this will achieve growth regulatory effects as well. Watch for pollen beetle numbers, and if thresholds are breached consider a pyrethroid insecticide as a tank mix.

Final nitrogen applications should be applied to oilseed rape crops now before damage is caused to main stems along tramlines.

Spring crops drilled in early February are finally through the ground now, and are making rapid growth. Watch for weevil damage on spring bean and pea crops, and consider control at the first signs of attack.

Sugar beet crops are all drilled now and weed control programmes will be underway. Watch for night frosts when using mixes and oils.


28 March 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyThe recent settled cold and dry spell means that in most cases nitrogen applications are up to date. It is tempting on forward lush first wheats to get “something on” whilst conditions are so good but a few more days patience could pay dividends in reducing lodging risk.

Many September drilled wheats are now in late tillering and growth stage 30 will be upon us rapidly following the recent change in weather.

Milder weather gives the opportunity to play catch up with spraying winter cereals.

There may be some possibility to save passes with tank mixes where labels allow. Where you are planning tank mixes make sure not to compromise timings or application conditions for either growth regulators or herbicides such as Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium).

Assess the need for a T0 fungicide, check varieties such as Robigus, Solstice and Claire for mildew. In some cases recent frosts have done a good tidy up job. Check and compare prices of protectant mildewicides as there is greater choice on the market this season.

Although not an obvious threat yet, consider the need for some yellow rust protection on varieties such as Robigus, the inclusion of a low rate triazole could buy valuable management time and save cost later in the season.

Winter barleys have not yet sprung into life but chlormequat applications can not be far away. Most crops are carrying a base level of mildew and net blotch.

Oilseed rape crops are not at the stage for application of canopy manipulation spray yet but keep a close eye on them as they begin to grow rapidly.

Keep a close eye on spring beans as they emerge, rooks and pigeons are problematic in some fields.


21 March 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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mark hemmantCold conditions continue to halt play with little fieldwork, except some spring barley drilling. Most crops of oilseed rape and backward cereals have now had their first dose of nitrogen.

When warmer weather returns there is likely to be very rapid crop growth, so as the spring workload becomes compressed it will be important to plan spray applications to avoid missing important cut-offs and to avoid potential tank-mix problems e.g.

  • The latest timing for Shield (clopyralid) and Galera (clopyralid + picloram) on winter oilseed rape is before flower buds visible above the crop
  • Plant tissue analysis is showing that many crops of oilseed rape are deficient in Boron – but check compatibility with other products before application
  • The cut-off for the first split of many chlormequat-containing products is before growth stage 31
  • Check compatibility of tank-mix partners with grassweed herbicides to avoid crop damage or loss of efficacy

Conditions favourable to crop growth are likely also to favour mildew, which is present in susceptible varieties, including many crops of Robigus.


14 March 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollThe unusually cold and dry winter which left soils in excellent condition, followed by recent rain leaving soils pretty wet and unworkable has given us some interesting scenario’s to deal with:

•Reduction in aphids and some other bugs such as wheat bulb fly. Don’t relax too much as these could appear with a vengeance in backwards crops and spring barley
• After the warm back end, some very forward wheat’s, which although checked by the winter, still look dangerously well and will need careful nitrogen and growth regulation
• Very little blackgrass control has so far taken place and rightly so given the very cold conditions. However, applying Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) before 31 March could be tricky – but there is always Pacifica, which is rather expensive, but has approval until the end of April
• Conditions for working beet and potato land will be tricky if soils don’t dry up dramatically

In these low margin times it will be more important than ever to get crops to perform, though not at the expense of variable costs.


8 March 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxWith the warmer conditions now here, final Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) applications should be started as soon as travelling conditions allow. Those that were applied in late autumn have worked well.

With the colder start to March, blackgrass has not made much spring growth as has been seen in milder winters, so time is of the essence.

Some crops may require a growth regulator as a tank mix, some of the more forward first wheat’s are now at growth stage 30 already.

Winter oilseed rape can now have its first application of nitrogen if not already applied already. Fertilisers containing sulphur should be applied first ahead of any straight nitrogen or urea materials.

The final window for control of cleavers, thistles and charlock in rape is here, and those products should be applied before flower buds become visible above the crop.

The final crops of spring beans are being drilled. Those that were drilled in early February have not emerged so far. It will be interesting to see whether they emerge before these last drillings.

Spring peas will soon be drilled when seed beds warm a little. Watch for any grass weeds that have germinated after cultivations. Apply a glyphosate-based herbicide before moving ground ahead of drilling.


28 February 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
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Andrew BlazeyThere has been little chance over the last ten days to catch up with any outstanding Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) applications. Where treatments are still outstanding, aim to apply when minimum temperatures are above 5C for a couple of days either side of treatment.

The cool weather has also slowed wheat bulb fly progress, but with egg hatch above 40% at most sampling sights, be vigilant for deadhearts as soon as the mild weather returns.

Where damage is noted in at-risk crops, apply dimethoate ASAP to get greatest efficacy. In particularly thin crops early nitrogen and rolling will also be beneficial.

Despite the dry winter, initial results from soil mineral nitrogen samples in the east suggest levels are not significantly above the long term average.

Begin nitrogen applications when mild weather returns, giving priority to rape crops. Apply 25-50% of total dose along with 30-40kg/ha sulphur when conditions allow.

As we enter March consider first nitrogen dressings in cereals but only on second wheats and winter barley. No more than 40-50kg/ha N will be required along with 15-20kg/ha sulphur where deficiency has been noted. A lot of patience will be required with first wheats this spring.

Check oilseed rape crops for thistles, cleavers and mayweeds before cut off point of flowers buds visible above the crop prevents application of Shield (clopyralid) and Galera (clopyralid + picloram). Also consider the necessity for a growth regulator base on triazole fungicide.

Where pre emergence sprays are still outstanding on spring beans check for emergence prior to application. Also assess the need for a specific graminicide in winter crops.

As potato seed arrives on farm check quality as soon as possible and plan or adjust seed treatments as required.


21 February 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
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mark hemmantLevels of wheat bulb fly are again predicted to be high this year and egg hatch is well underway.  To minimise the risk of crop damage, do not apply chlorpyriphos within two weeks of an application of Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) or Pacifica (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) and avoid tank-mixing with any herbicide in frosty conditions.  Be prepared to switch to dimethoate when deadhearts become apparent.

If conditions allow apply Atlantis + BioPower where required for grassweed control.  Planning to delay applications until the T0 timing may result in compromised weed control and lost yield. 

Many cereal crops have the full range of foliar diseases, with in particular unprecedented levels of mildew and both brown and yellow rust for the time of year.  Manganese deficiency is also very apparent on the lighter soils.

High levels of phoma persist in oilseed rape not yet treated or treated early in the autumn.  Small crops are likely to benefit from a fungicide treatment.  More forward crops will soon be at the flower buds visible stage – which is the latest timing for many herbicides. 


14 February 2006

Bridget Carroll – Fleetmarsh Agronomy, Skegness
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Bridget CarrollCrops are looking well and most discussions are now focusing on levels and timings of nitrogen. Min N tests are relatively high but there is still some way to go.

The winter has been one of the driest on record on the east coast and consequently travelling conditions are very good, providing temptation to get going.

It is still a bit too early for nitrogen – most crops went in well, had a lovely mild autumn and now have very good roots and lots of tillers. Judging when to apply fertiliser to oilseed rape will be tricky, but it will be important not to be too late.

Whether total amounts can be reduced is also a point for debate with the high cost of nitrogen. Many trials show optimum levels are now slightly up on two-three years ago. RB209 recommendations need to be adhered to unless clear proof of need for more can be provided.

Farmade issued their PLANET module last week and alongside similar software, now is a good time to get the Entry Level Scheme Nutrient and Manure Plans in place. Both forms of PLANET seem straightforward and provide good guidance and records.

It is still too early for spraying Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron), as conditions are not warm enough. Activities are best focused on getting spring barley and beans into good seedbeds and doing any other preparatory work such as fertiliser applications and working down other seedbeds.


7 February 2006

Jon Yeoman – Banks Cargill, Bedfordshire
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Jon Yeoman 100pxTaking advantage of the run of frosts we are having, the first land work of the year is starting with pulling down the autumn ploughing for spring seedbeds. Spring beans are probably the first to be drilled, followed by spring barley.

Check seedbeds before drilling for any surviving blackgrass that has survived cultivations, and where necessary spray prior to drilling with a glyphosate-based product.

The newer formulations require less product, have better wetters and have a quicker turn around time before drilling.

Wheat Bulb Fly egg hatch is well under way, especially on the organic sites, so any late-drilled wheat that is short on tiller numbers or generally backward, should be considered for a treatment of chlorpyrifos before plant invasion starts.

This colder weather should slow that stage for a while. Check formulations for tank mix options. Not all products offer these.

Blackgrass control generally has been good from autumn treatments, and where autumn Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) has been applied, the results are tremendous.

For crops that are still intended for an Atlantis treatment, warmer weather hopefully will soon be with us for applications to start again.


30 January 2006

Andrew Blazey – TAG Consulting, Norfolk
(Click to contact)

Andrew BlazeyThe recent cold and dry spell has brought the prospect of some spring drilling to the fore again. Seedbeds should be checked for the necessity to burn off any greening up prior to drilling.

To save on wheelings it may be possible to apply glyphosate with the pre-em herbicide, if the drill will run freely. In this situation you will need to be confident that any weeds buried by the drill will not re-grow.

Plan and calculate seed rates for spring crops. Aim for established plant populations as below taking into account germination and field loss.

  • Spring Peas  65-90 plants/m2
  • Spring Beans  45-50 plants/m2
  • Spring Barley  250-300 plants/m2
  • Spring Wheat  300-350 plants/m2

Wheat bulb fly
Last week’s figures put wheat bulb fly egg hatch in excess of 40% in the east. Use risk charts and previous experience to ascertain likely fields at risk.

If an egg hatch spray is to be applied, this can be done on the frost but beware of tank mix restrictions. In particular observe intervals where Atlantis (mesosulfuron-methyl + iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium) is to be applied.

Where Kerb (propyzamide) applications have been missed in oilseed rape there is still an opportunity to mop up grassweeds with carbetamex before the end of February.

Check rape crops for thistles and cleavers so applications can be planned for late February/March when conditions are mild.

Though the majority of rape crops are very forward, pigeon control is essential as crops look to grow away.

With a current ratio of wheat:N price of approximately 7:1 it is even more important to plan spring nitrogen usage.

Consider factors such as previous crop, expected yield, intended market, farm yard manure usage and the current growth stage of the crop. Use all tools available such as soil testing, FYM testing and trials data.


24 January 2006

Mark Hemmant – Agrovista, Norfolk
(Click to contact)

mark hemmantIn many instances grassweed control in oilseed rape has been left until crops open up, but growers now need to treat as a matter of urgency.

January 31 is the latest timing for propyzamide and carbetamide + a graminicide. Although carbetamide (alone) can be used until the end of February, control of large blackgrass can be variable unless tank-mixed with a graminicide (e.g. propaquizafop).

Many crops also have high levels of phoma. Large crops that have already been sprayed are unlikely to be worth spraying. However small or backward plants will be worth treating, for improved yield and oil content.

Levels of wheat bulb fly are again predicted to be high this year and egg hatch has begun, so treat at risk crops now with Dursban WG (chlorpyrifos).

To minimise the risk of crop damage, do not apply chlorpyriphos within two weeks of an application of Atlantis or Pacifica (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) and avoid tank-mixing with any herbicide in frosty conditions.

When inspecting cereal crops, consider the need for grassweed control and the potential need for a T0 spray.

Many crops have the full range of foliar diseases, and in particular there are unprecedented levels of brown and yellow rust for the time of year. Unless ‘arctic’ conditions occur, an effective T0 triazole treatment will be required to help manage the potential yellow and brown rust epidemic on susceptible varieties.


17 January 2006

Bridget Carroll – Independent Agronomist (Lincs)
(Click to contact)

Bridget CarrollMuch time is being spent preparing for the Entry Level Scheme, including: Soil Management Plans, Nutrient and Manure Plans and Crop Protection Management Plans.

The Soil Management Plan presents quite a few challenges with erosion risk assessment needed for all farms with fields that have gradients steep enough to allow a ball to run down, even if this is only a small part of that field.

The Nutrient and Manure Management Plans can be carried out using the new PLANET software, which has been incorporated into Farmade and Muddy Boots crop recording software, meaning that much data does not have to be re-inputted.

While the Crop Protection Management Plan is somewhat more straightforward, being a continuation from previous year’s plans, the new Waste Disposal legislation due to take force from April, presents a challenge.

Reviews of costs are critical in this difficult time for agriculture. Crops can still be grown at low cost and good yields despite the increasing threats from blackgrass and nitrogen pricing.

Reviewing trials data from last spring reveals that it was not necessary to spend a great deal on fungicides with around £37-42/ha (£15-17/acre) more than adequate.


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

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