Farmer Focus: Are dirty or so-called ‘green’ varieties the way forward?

After frosty mornings and no rain, all our crops have had a stuttering start to their growing season.

T0s consisted of the dependable and relatively cheap chlorothalonil (CTL) with a trace element mix.

Oilseed rape and barley have had their final nitrogen applications, but wheat will get another dose (four-way split).

See also: How to grow septoria-resistant wheat in the West

Wheat T1s were Keystone (isopyrazam and epoxiconazole) and CTL as well as chlormequat plant growth regulator.

Just what will replace CTL when the controversial EU revocation comes into effect remains to be seen.

Dirty versus ‘green’

With this situation in mind, are so-called “green” varieties a way of reducing our dependency on fungicides?

How reliable are the scores of six, seven or even eight for septoria resistance? What yield penalty will be traded off?

“Dirty” high-yielders seem to have the best response from fungicides. So as long as you keep on top of them, are they still the sustainable way to get a barn full?

I was fortunate enough to take part recently in a webinar back at my old college, Askham Bryan near York, with Dr Sarah Kendal of Adas.

It was quite a whirlwind as we responded to questions from all and sundry. Although the main thread was about the YEN, we might have rambled far and wide without clear direction from Dr Emily Pope of the AHDB.

It was certainly enjoyable to be a participant; I hope the audience felt the same!

Training

Recently I had to take my PA6 knapsack sprayer certificate to pacify the farm assurance brigade.

I was surprised how much I learnt about the humble sprayer that we’ve all being using for years, incorrectly it seems.

It was also enlightening to realise how many different types of users, including gamekeepers, caravan site managers and local authorities, need the training.

And it was good to see a wide range of environmental issues covered.

Spring always signals the start of new life, so it is great to report the arrival of our second grandson in early April. Mother and Oliver Henry are doing fine.

Thanks for all the kind messages. I’m not sure if his big brother knows quite what has happened yet!