This past four weeks has seen us with a more normal (whatever that word may mean) spell of April weather of alternating showery days and days of brilliant sunshine. The fine days have allowed the last of the spring drilling to get wrapped up and permitted sprayers and fertiliser spreaders to keep up to date as long as the wind was not too savage. The wet days have provided a welcome drink to the spring sown crops, but have been a bit of an irritant to potato planters. In general, potatoes are going in to better than average seedbeds which hopefully augurs well for the season.
Most spring barley crops have emerged and appear to be free of disease. However, do not be tempted to skimp on fungicide inputs. There is some great potential out there to be exploited. A good rate of triazole plus a mildewicide and chlorothalonil first time around should set the crop up for a more sophisticated mix at T2. Many crops will have had a pre-emergence herbicide targeting annual meadowgrass so may only need a simple tidy up. Where pre-emergence treatment was not possible a more complex sulphonylurea plus hormone mix will be required. The exact ingredients will depend on weed spectrum and density.
Winter oilseed rape fields are bursting into flower and are about to get their traditional mid flower spray if they haven’t had it already. There has been a lot of mention of sclerotinia from down south and those fields with a history of the disease may no doubt get a second insurance spray at late petal fall even though our soil temperatures are much lower. A mix of actives at reasonable rates is a sensible strategy to combat this yield robbing disease.
Winter barleys have been romping on but the showery weather promises the chance of an outbreak of ramularia to add to other disease risks. A triazole and SDHI plus chlorothalonil approach should be the order of the day. Try not to stress the crop as this often stimulates an outbreak of the disease.
As with most other crops winter wheats are looking well and fairly clean except for a touch of septoria. My preference is for a robust triazole plus a morpholine and chlorothalonil, reserving the SDHI for next time round. Do not neglect growth regulation, especially on early-drilled fields with forward crops.
All this seems like nirvana! No doubt my nemesis, Mother Nature will disrupt my plans for a leisurely June and July. That anticipation is what keeps us crop walkers on our toes!