North: Starting spring with tremendous looking crops

Although 81mm of rain in January seemed a lot of rain locally, it was nothing compared with the torrential rain and storms further south.  All crops on the whole look tremendous.

Winter has hardly arrived so crops have kept on growing, particularly in the mild weather over the past two weeks.  This spring is certainly going to be a case of trying to carefully manage forward crops whereas this time last year everything needed pushing on.

In winter wheat, yellow rust is the main disease threat in more eastern areas, but at the moment levels of rust vary over quite small geographic areas.  However, on susceptible varieties it is just a case of “when” rather than “if” the rust will appear.

With the gloom and doom over reduced sensitivity of Septoria tritici to triazole fungicides at least this group still has very good activity on the rusts.  In a small number of cases where the rust levels are already signficiant, a pre T0 fungicide will be required, otherwise the field may be glowing in the dark by the time we apply the T0 if left untreated!  Mildew is evident in thick and forward crops with the main yield robber, Septoria tritici, very evident on older leaves.

Blackgrass control overall has been pretty good in wheat where herbicide programmes were completed.  Success rates have been highest where the crop was drilled in October rather than September as soil moisture improved the performance of residual herbicides.  Any remaining applications of herbicides such as Atlantis (iodosulfuron +  mesosulfuron) or Broadway Star (florasulam + pyroxsulam) for control of grassweeds such as blackgrass, ryegrass and brome can soon be made providing growing conditions are good.

Nitrogen is being applied to moderate or backward wheat crops along with second wheats.  However, it will be a case of holding off nitrogen on the thick forward early sown crops in order to try and starve the crop to make it lose some tillers.

Winter barley crops have hardly turned the usual sorry looking yellow colour during winter due to the weather being so mild and relatively little rain over the past three months.  Mildew and brown rust are the main diseases evident along with some net blotch and rhynchosporium.  Early nitrogen is being applied whether it be for feed, malting or hybrid varieties.

Oilseed rape crops have good sized canopies where the very dry autumn conditions prevented them from becoming too large.  You can still see plenty of soil between plants which is good at this time of year, rather than having the crop too thick and knee high.

Where these forward crops exist careful use of nitrogen and timings are in order along with growth regulators.  Mayweed is popping up mostly on headlands and will require control with cleavers and thistles the other main weeds which will need dealing with.  Herbicides such as Shield (clopyralid) and Galera (clopyralid + picloram) have a narrow window for their application and with crops starting to grow quickly the cut off timings will soon arrive.

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