Farmer Focus: Keith Challen visits a blackgrass trials site

Well another dry month with only 15mm rain recorded, bringing our quarterly total to just over 53mm.

Recently drilled Higher Level Stewardship strips are desperate for rain as is the spring rape with seed-beds resembling the Ogaden Desert in places. Red wheat requires an application of Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl), but drought stress prevents us from going near it.

After a visit to Nottingham with my eldest daughter last week, I was convinced the park-and-ride idea for Cereals 2010 was a good one, a completely stress free journey. Sadly this didn’t prove the case.

Once at the event, firmly at the top of my list was Agco’s new 600 series Rogator followed by steak and pimms with Duncan and Toplis. I also targeted oilseed rape nutrition and sought out someone who knows about molybdenum and its timings.

Thanks to Masstock for inviting me to their Stow Longa Smart Farm event last week to view their blackgrass trials, never again will I complain about my blackgrass. I can honestly say I’ve never seen blackgrass like it – the perfect trials site.

The cunning strategy for next years control will include, delayed drilling, multiple stale seedbeds, competitive wheat varieties, higher seed rates and robust pre-ems followed up by Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) plus bio power when the weed is only at 1-2 leaves and not the tillered stage of this years timings.

While on the subject of visits, I must thank Tony Renolds for showing us what can only be described as some truly fantastic looking crops established by zero tillage.

T2’s were applied last week with Amistar opti and epoxiconazole tank mixed with some magnesium nitrate. Considering the year, the wheats look pretty good. T3s will follow Cereals week and will probably be strobulurin based. Disease levels are remarkably low, which is not surprising with the dry spring. Rye grass sprayed with Axial (pinoxaden) and Adigore is starting to look a little sick, fingers crossed we aren’t battling another resistant grass weed.

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