East: Hoisted by my own petard

Despite best efforts and attention to application detail, we’re going to see a lot more blackgrass across Lincolnshire that we’ve seen in previous years and this year it can’t be put down to bad application and lack of knowledge, no – this year it looks as though in the battle between man and weed, the weed has won.

Flag leaf fungicide applications are well underway on my patch and, as anticipated, Leaf 1 has emerged 7-10 days earlier than we would normally expect to see it. I first saw it this season in Conqueror on 29th April – a new flag leaf spotting record for me! The T1 fungicide has worked very well and all 4 of the top leaves are absolutely spotless even in the dirtiest varieties – confirmation that the right thing to do at T1 was to go hard and go 7 days early rather than 7 days late!

Septoria tritici still remains the biggest threat by far, but the guard should be kept up against the constant threat of both yellow and brown rust which, in a weather pattern similar to this back in 2007, exploded around the third week of May when increasing temperatures and heavy rainfall combined to end that seasons drought.

With this in mind your T2 fungicide should be robust and principally made up of  an absolute minimum 80% dose of either prothioconazole or epoxiconazole plus one of the better SDHI’s – we’ve already lost the battle against blackgrass, the last thing we need is to lose the battle against septoria as well, so keep those doses up!

Is there a threat of lodging in the 2014 season? There’s always the threat of lodging. The problem is that we don’t know whether it’s a lodging year until after the event and then the experts in the media all become incredibly wise and point out to the rest of us what we should have done – hapless fools that we are! All remaining applications of nitrogen have been made we just need the rest of the season to go with us because the potential for a good harvest is definitely there – at the moment!

Awns began to emerge in most of my winter barley 14 days ago and although disease levels remain relatively low and T1’s have worked well, abiotic spotting is widespread and thanks to moist canopies and warm conditions there is a noticeable increase in the level of both rhynchosporium and net blotch in the base of the crop – T2 fungicides are therefore well underway and approaching completion. Spring barley T1 fungicide and herbicide mixtures are all but complete on my earlier drillings and will all be complete by the time you read this. Spring wild oats have suddenly started to emerge with a vengeance so Axial (pinoxaden) will be applied at the earliest opportunity.

Sugar beet crops have emerged very evenly this season –  it’s been a couple of seasons since we’ve seen good emergence – but the lack of rainfall across much of Lincolnshire means that weed control has been testing to say the least. When the bulk of your armoury consists of residuals, if you don’t get regular rainfall those residuals just don’t work, but sticking to the program and by including desmedipham in dry, stressed conditions, the pressure is kept up on the weeds. Thankfully it’s beginning to pay off now, although volunteer Borage is once again the pain in my seating area! Skylark damage is widespread once again on the Lincolnshire Wolds but with the – albeit variable – drop of rain we’ve had over the last 7 days or so, crops should recover and grow away from this damage relatively quickly.

Potatoes are emerging – both as volunteers in my sugar beet and as crops in their own right – the earlier plantings  are almost meeting along the ridges now and it would appear pre-emergence herbicide programs are doing their job so far. It will only be a week or so from now before we’re starting  blight programs once again.

Spring oilseed rape and linseed have both taken a bit of a bashing from flea beetle, but we are now back in control and they are growing away well, with the latter receiving its broad-leaved weed herbicides last week.

Emerging spring bean and pea crops have been similarly hammered by pea and bean weevil which I think is more widespread than I’ve ever seen it, but they again have been dealt with and fields are now growing away well with many spring bean crops pushing 5-6 leaf pairs and so the cut-off timing for applications of bentazone rapidly approaches.


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