North: All out biological warfare in wheat crops

It’s turning out to be an excellent spring with 30mm rain last week, just what we needed.

Cool, steady growth has never been rapid, but crops have developed well. Wheats are still rather light in tillers, but now they are enriched with nitrogen have massive potential. Septoria is as severe as it’s ever been at this stage, so it’s all-out biological warfare. T1 treatments have been very effective, keeping the disease on lower leaves and all new growth clean. It’s therefore vital to be on time with T2 and ensuring that rates of powerful fungicides are high enough to do the job.

T2 disease treatments are going on this week; most crops are on schedule at three weeks from T1 and just waiting for flag leaves to emerge fully while the weather settles. By this weekend, they should all be complete – disease protection, lashings of growth regulator and a healthy dose of Epsom salts.

Barleys are all shot and also about to have their final treatment very shortly – disease levels are low due to excellent control already. Oilseed rape has now come off-flower and appears well-podded and with low foliar disease levels. We’ll soon see if our expensive sclerotinia controls worked.

Cheshire maize is all emerged and pre-emergence herbicides are working well in moist soil – taking the pressure off weed competition and so reducing the stress imposed by follow-up weed control. Look out for leatherjackets, as there are plenty about, especially where stubbles were left green and scruffy. We’re even far enough ahead that we’ve started potato blight and aphid control, given the high pressure.

Lancashire spring cereals are coming on well and seem to be over some frost and herbicide scorch. Barleys are now getting mildew protection, at mid-tillering. Nice rain has shifted them on and helped nitrogen doses to work – they all have good potential and many look excellent. Beans have established well and weed control has mostly been good so we’re hoping to avoid the need for mechanical weeding, except on organic moss soils where it is almost inevitable.

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