North: Apply sulphur early to reap benefit

The early warnings of hosepipe bans will be like music to my Scottish colleagues, as one thing last year gave them was plenty of water! A much overlooked benefit of dry weather, from the agronomist’s point of view, is how much easier it is to scout the land. Unfortunately, this usually means finding lots of horror stories.

Blackgrass looks remarkably healthy despite having had the Greek national debt spent on it. No doubt much discussion will be had on resistance, product performance and dry weather.

On the positive side crops look really well and thoughts are turning to the first application of fertiliser. Sulphur needs to be applied early to get the benefit in this growing year. Assess each crop on its merit and don’t be fooled by the dry spring weather over the last three years. Large, early applications of Nitrogen will increase lodging risk and produce ideal disease conditions.

Growth Regulators could be vital this year and with possible Chlormoquat shortages, alternative strategies should be prepared. T0 sprays for wheat are now common place on many farms, and with forward prices remaining strong, will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Wheat is easier to assess, with 20 out of the 30 listed varieties being rated 5 or lower for Septoria, and the majority of the sown acres vulnerable to either yellow or brown rust. Winter Barley is a different cup of tea. Historically, there has been no response to a T0 spray in England, however, in Scotland this has not always been the case.

The weather has done wonders for the rape, reducing many crops to above average rather than triffid like. Growth regulation and early disease control will be high priority for most crops.

The return of bitterly cold temperatures resurrected the spectre of dead oats and beans again, but joy of joys, I haven’t seen any damage yet so hopefully we are through the worst now.

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