North: Varieties to hold centre stage at Cereals

 

The arrival of ‘Cereals’ signals the light at the end of the tunnel in the combinable cropping year. Varieties will, as always, hold centre stage and with low commodity prices, and a keen eye on reducing growing costs, high disease-resistant varieties will be top of most people’s agenda. Remember, as you admire the array of breeder’s promises, that high disease resistance does not mean no fungicide treatments, but it does add spray flexibility and reduced risk.

Wheat crops have received the flag leaf sprays and discussion of T3 is now taking place. Why a discussion? The legacy of 2012 and the fusarium epidemic still etch scars deep in the memory. Unfortunately, the success of fungicides controlling fusarium owes more to luck of timing than operator skill. Prothioconazole has the best chance of success, but carries a hefty price tag. I feel prolonged septoria and rust control are as equally important, and this year could also see mildew appear on the ears of susceptible varieties like Leeds.

Having many clients that would be described as small to medium size arable farms, using T3 is often ‘empty the store time’ and the spray is a cocktail of what is left. Orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) provides another twist in the final decisions for the wheat crop. Traps have been set and daily inspections will take place, however, with the low temperatures persisting it could be a fruitless task. On a positive note, no self respecting grain aphid has yet ventured forth and hopefully this will be a no show.

Winter barleys are now flowering and look majestic and clean as a whistle. I would love to say this is due to either my brilliance or fantastic new chemistry, but unfortunately, the season as always has the last laugh! Spring barleys are now stem extending and flag leaf is just visible on the most advanced. An awn spray will be planned, but with rates and products trimmed to suit disease pressure. The recent wet weather has certainly helped spring barley and growth regulation will be required on some crops. Unfortunately, this lush growth can be very varied often within the same field, so not all crops will need treatment.

Oilseed rape is either finishing flowering, starting flowering or in mid-flower, depending on site location and pigeon history. One spray has been the limit for disease control post-flowering and fingers are crossed that this has been the right decision.

Spring beans are still displaying a white tinge to the leaves as the clomazone effects continue. Flowering is just starting in the spring beans, but with cold temperatures, no bruchid beetles have been seen. The forecast does hint at hot weather due this week, so vigilance will increase. Winter beans are in mid flower and fungicides are being applied with a second treatment scheduled in a month’s time depending on pressure.

Oat crops look well, with winter oats at ear emergence and spring oats stem extending. A final fungicide is being applied to the winter oats and the first to the spring oats. In non-blackgrass areas, oats provide a useful crop, being cost effective to grow and providing a break for wheat. The down side is they take up a lot of storage room and can be difficult to shift. You have been warned!

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