Philip Reck plans his spring barley drilling

The mild weather this winter is the complete opposite to the freezing temperatures and snow seen last winter – it’s a difference of 20C. Winter crops that were covered in snow and subject to freezing temperatures yielded exceptionally well, proving their resilience to the natural elements. Winter wheat and oats have recovered well from the heavy rains in the autumn. However, the mild weather will make disease control more challenging.

Septoria control, in particular, will need to be on time and if the season becomes difficult, robust fungicide rates based on triazole, chlorotalonil and SDHI chemistry will be required.

I have opted for Propino, Frontier and Taberna spring barley varieties and March still remains the ideal month for crop establishment. Maximising the crop’s potential is dependant on suitable ground conditions. The fodder rape cover crops will be sprayed off with glyphosate and cultivated ahead of the drill. It still remains necessary to cultivate for spring cereals. Although the fodder rape has kept the soil structure in place, the cultivator pass prior to drilling helps the soil to dry out, incorporates air and raises the temperature of the soil.

This season, the 2005 6m Vaderstad Topdown will be replaced by a similarly sized machine. Its performance and reliability has been outstanding, making the decision to get the new model relatively simple.

When ground conditions allow I will spread granulated calcium lime on land that received ground calcium limestone in the autumn. This will give a boost in pH levels as the ground limestone is slow-releasing. I am also comparing the harvest yields with the soil analysis results. Some fields have the ability to yield more and fine tuning the nutrition on these fields, particularly the trace elements, will help to unlock this potential.

Philip Reck manages 1,050ha of light to medium loams within 20 miles of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ireland. Cropping is cereals and oilseed rape, all min-till established.

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