North: Rain proves wishes can come true

Our wishes have come true in that rain has rescuedcrops. We’re now getting warmer weather and markets have improved,but we can never be fully happy. Wind means spray days have beenfew and far between.

Winter wheat has been developing steadily and we have a lot offlag leaves emerging. Many growers have not long since appliedtheir T1 spray, but as the flag leaf emerges it is unprotected. Sothey should still be prepared to go in at correct timing to ensurethis vital yield-boosting leaf is protected.

Recently some crops have started to develop mildew at the baseof the plants, so a mildewicide, such as Justice(proquinazid) or Flexity (metrafenone), shouldbe included in T2 spray to try to keep the disease off theears.

Septoria is noticeable only at low levels, but after recent rainsplash and warmer temperatures, it will develop rapidly inunprotected crops. So the backbone of our T2 fungicide will beepoxiconazole based at a rate sufficient to give eradication andprotection, complemented with strobilurin as required andchlorothalonil.

Last season, even in absence of visible disease at flag leaf,crops which had a weaker fungicide programme lost their green leafto septoria 10-14 days faster; so cutting rates and using weakerproducts is a big gamble at this timing.

We’ll probably move rapidly to ears emerged, and because of ourextended grain fill period we won’t omit an ear-wash spray. Withfewer tillers this season every bit of the plant needs tocompensate with yield.

Spring barley looks well, despite some scary scorches from heftytank mixes. Rainfall and heat is moving crops on nicely and awnemergence will be our next spray timing when we’ll be looking toprotect against ramularia.

Programmes will feature a good dose of chlorothalonil and bebased around a prothioconazole mixture. I will also be trying someVenture (boscalid + epoxiconazole) at this timing.Last year it was impressive in reducing brackling, very important,as we have more Optic in ground this season.

Plenty of spring beans are developing downy mildew, which ishardly surprising considering the increased area and weatherpattern.

The only product available to treat it, Folio Gold(chlorothalonil + metalaxyl-M), should be applied asap, as itcan ruin a crop. If no active disease is present straightchlorothalonil gives some protection.

We’re now looking at plans for autumn drillings with growers andtrying to work out fertiliser and cropping options for nextseason.

We also hope we’ll be able to start correcting some of the soilstructure damage and get rotations back on course.

A lot of people took nutrient holidays this season. We shouldall be looking at analysis to try to get a picture of our soils’indices and work out a long-term approach using rotation tomaintain them at correct levels.

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