North: Winter respite

Winter has very briefly let its icy grip go and we had the pleasure of walking fields in spring like conditions. Soil temperatures have risen and crops at last have come out of hibernation. Spring grass weed control programmes are likely to start this week, just as the snow is predicted to return.On the whole winter wheat crops look well.

The early drilled wheat trial, on one of my client’s farms, shows some varietal differences to frost damage and it will be interesting to monitor if this affects yield. T0 sprays are going to be a real dilemma, as backward crops and cold weather mean that timings will become very problematic.

I think it may be easier to leave the sprayer in the field because at the current rate, we will be applying a spray every week.The organic wheat crop is a testament to the weed control advantages of drilling later. The only weed of note is a small amount of Ivy Leafed Speedwell. I just hope the Alchemy manages to keep brown rust at bay long enough to yield reasonably well.Growing malting barley is very similar to listening to Alistair Darling’s budget, a painful exercise. You know you are going to lose money but you’re not sure how much. Despite record malt sales carryover stocks are still big enough for a large hangover. Syngenta have successfully gained registration for their new IZM product, although T1 sprays will be primarily based on a Triazole + Strobalurin combination.

Winter oilseed rape crops are now starting to move and late applied residual graminicides have done a great job. Despite the threat of light leaf spot, treatments will be dependent on variety and growth regulator requirements.Spring drilling has carried on at a pace and this year spring beans and linseed make a return to the cropping mosaic. Although pretty to look at I don’t think they will fund many trips to the Maldives.

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