Farmer Focus: Philip Reck’s min-tilled spring crops brave bad weather best

The tell-tale signs of compaction and nutrient deficiency are all too visible in spring barley this year.

Headlands and wet patches have suffered considerably. Wet cold weather in April and May exacerbated the problem and probably led to nutrients being leached.

Most crops had a tremendous start but unfortunately went downhill. Many have recovered well but unfortunately too late so the yield expectations of spring crops has been lowered.

A dry summer will be needed so that worthwhile subsoiling can be achieved to repair the damage of two wet harvests.

Our direct-drilled spring crops were slow to get going but seem to have braved the wet cold spell better than most.

The soil’s condition after nine years of min-till has certainly helped produce good even crops with no yellowing of headlands or visible signs of compaction.

These crops certainly benefited from having a split application of nitrogen, rather than a single dressing early on.

The ban on autumn ploughing for spring crops has shown itself to be impractical yet again.

Growers had to plough in far from ideal conditions and then spend more energy cultivating these soils into suitable seed-beds than they would have had the ploughed ground had been broken down by winter frosts.

News that there is evidence of further triazole insensitivity to septoria is worrying.

So far Proline (prothioconazole) has only exhibited this insensitivity in laboratory trials with no evidence of decreased efficacy in the field.

Our disease control in winter wheat is based around Opus (epoxiconazole), with Proline only used at T3 in conjunction with Folicur (tebuconazole).

Recent work has shown that isolates that were showing increased insensitivity to Proline were quite sensitive to Folicur. Until such time that this insensitivity is proved to be replicated in the field our strategy will remain the same.

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