North: Sunshine required to fulfil crop potential

All crops continue to look well and for most it is now a case of relying on plenty of sunshine to realise the full potential. High amounts of rain in May and early June means the crops are certainly not short of water, so lots of cool and bright weather would be ideal.

Winter wheat T3 fungicides have been applied, largely comprising of robust rates of triazole fungicides to cover fusarium, as well as top up septoria and rust control.A strobilurin fungicide was added where rust was of particular concern. You can see to the line where any spray misses have occurred as the yellow rust has been rampant. Like blight in potatoes these diseases are very unforgiving. Aphids so far have not reached the threshold for spraying and hopefully it will stay that way.

Spring barley T2 fungicides have been applied mainly to counter the high rhynchosporium pressure. High rainfall between the T1 and T2 timings has splashed this wet weather-loving disease all over the crop canopy.In susceptible varieties such as Waggon and Concerto a T2 fungicide is an absolute must to stay on top of it. 

Combining peas are now in flower and a period of warm weather has seen the build up of aphids to exceed treatment threshold levels. Some pea midge has been evident as well, so these pests have been controlled with an insecticide. Pest pressure has also been an issue in bean crops, with some recent warm days triggering the bruchid beetle alert system.

Planning for next years cropping is well underway. Various trials meetings this month will bring fresh ideas for the challenges facing us all next year, with blackgrass top of the list. Embracing often unpopular cultural control methods, changing rotations and being very flexible with cultivation strategies are all absolute musts. The days of getting your head down, drilling early and relying on the agrichemical to sort out the blackgrass have long gone.

The recent greening announcements as part of the CAP reform process have shed further light on what can and can’t be done next year.Of the 5 options available to meet the 5% Ecological Focus Area (EFA) target, the growing of nitrogen fixing crops looks the most appealing. I anticipate a huge upsurge in the area of pulse crops next year, which if spring sown will also be a positive rotational change in the battle against blackgrass.

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