North: Do we need more nitrogen?

Paul Sweeney

AICC (Cheshire/Lancs)


Okay, I might as well go for the loony vote: what we really need now is a nice drop of rain! 


Crops look great but the big guessing game is just how much nitrogen got washed away in the deluge and whether it’s worth going now with a small top-up, hence the need for a bit of rain.  We estimate that at least 30 kg/ha N has gone west, maybe more.


Speaking of nutters, who was it that invented liquid fertilisers?  I’m very glad to have outlawed any liquids beyond mid-April; some of the damage done to crops is unbelievable.  Please, someone explain to me what the point is of spending a fortune growing a nice big, healthy green canopy only to burn the lot off with liquid nitrogen – its madness. It happens every year and this season is the worst ever. Maybe some farmers are missing Gramoxone so much that they are looking for a replacement.


Both T1 and T2 went onto wheats exactly on time, three weeks apart.  A few farmers started early and are so ahead that they are now putting on a little top-up of trialzole – a T2½ – on this week.  Disease control has been outstanding despite massive septoria pressure.  Applications have kept everything at bay and wheats certainly have great potential. Some will definitely justify more nitrogen if it does rain next week.


Oilseed rape is now flowering into its seventh week, which cannot be bad – it must be happy.  We are applying more fungicide to control sclerotinia in a number of crops.  Even those which looked poor are now looking fine and are worth looking after.  A few are dabbling with foliar urea as a late N source – but I cannot come to terms with the exorbitantly-priced fancy mixes which some national distributors have been hawking around.


Spring-sown wheat & barleys are looking great with all the rain, so it’s worth looking after them.  Advanced spring barleys have their flag leaves out already.  Will we find enough growth regulator to keep them upright?


What about next year’s fertiliser?  The key players have a pretty good stranglehold and know what you can afford to pay.  If you’ve got the cash, get it bought.


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