Spring feels ever closer and as land begins to dry, plans are getting discussed.
Generally, cereals are emerging through the winter well, although manganese deficiency has been very prevalent on susceptible soils. Crops that received routine manganese applications in the autumn have avoided deficiency symptoms thus far, although further applications will be planned once the crop begins to grow to prevent it becoming deficient. Where the deficiency is found, be mindful when planning spring herbicides. Manganese deficiency can cause the leaf to lose its waxy cuticle, which will leave it vulnerable to herbicide damage.
Soil mineral nitrogen (SMN) levels have dropped down to low levels and the majority is being found deeper than 60cm and below the crop roots. Nitrogen and sulphur applications will begin on the oilseed rape, focusing on the more backward crops. Careful consideration is required on bigger advanced crops, however, be cautious about delaying too long, as they certainly don’t want to be starved. A smaller first dose maybe required in these instances.
Cereal applications will begin on the more backward crops. Those that were drilled late have sat in wet anaerobic conditions and not been able to produce a root structure. These will receive a dose of DAP (diammonium phosphate) first to help alleviate this.
There is a large area of milling wheat this year due to higher yielding group 1 varieties and it will be important to discuss potential crop nitrogen requirements. Evaluating previous protein results and yields can give an indication as to the amount required. To reach these higher nitrogen levels a four split approach, followed by a foliar ear feed could add more flexibility. Feed wheat proteins can prove equally as important and if the grain has not been reaching 10.8%, consider increasing the dose.
Disease pressure is very variable and is certainly showing a true reflection of varietal disease resistance. Early on, yellow rust and mildew were prevalent in susceptible varieties. Septoria has been populating the older leaves and will mean protective chemistry will feature early in the fungicide programmes.
Winter oilseed rape crops are already beginning to show the crown and the cut off for Galera (clopyralid + picloram) will be very tight this year (from the 1 March). Some will have reached this stage by the time it can be applied. In these instances, earlier applied Astrokerb (aminopyralid + propyzamide) is becoming increasingly useful where thistle, cleaver and mayweed is present. Flea beetle larvae damage continues to look very concerning, with several larvae being found within stems.
Spring drilling will commence as soon as travelling conditions improve. When considering spring barley it is worth waiting for the correct conditions to enable good establishment. However, earlier spring bean drilling can be important to avoid late harvests. Spraying with glyphosate prior to beans being drilled increases blackgrass and broad-leaved weed control and aids the residual herbicides at pre-emergence. With the warm winter I’d be surprised if we didn’t see significant spring blackgrass flushes this year.