South: Drilling and fertiliser spreading has begun

Winter this year does not seem to want to go away. Last week we had some very cold nights with temperature dropping down to -6C. There has been frost every night making spraying of any form impossible, although I did see one lone sprayer outlast week.

Oilseed rape is now looking particularly sick as a result of continuing de-waxing effect of the frost and could do with some good growing conditions. Light leaf spot is obvious in the rape crops and requires immediate action, however spraying under these conditions could lead to crop damage and the fungicide would not be effective.

Oilseed rape crops are at the right stage for the application of Galera herbicide but with high diurnal temperature variation this material will not work and there could be significant crop damage. Similarly any herbicide application to any crop should be avoided for risk of damage and lack of efficacy because for any crop protection chemical to work good growing conditions with reasonable night temperatures are required.

When forming herbicide spray options take into account the permissiblesequences and mixtures for the sulphonylurea herbicides such asAtlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) Othello (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + diflufenican ) or Lexus SX (flupyrsulfuron)which may have been used in the autumn as strict rules are in place.

On the plus side land work has now started, some nitrogen has beenapplied to cereals and oilseed rape and also a little spring barleydrilling has also been done. Spring beans drilled two weeks ago havejust shot and may emerge in about ten days time. Peas can be drilledonce the soil has warmed to 13C (currently 9C).

Drilling into cold seedbeds can lead to delayed emergence, damping off disease, slow growthand excessive weevil damage. Remember to use a good pre-emergenceherbicide as there are not many good post emergence herbicide optionsavailable, but ensure to drill to correct depth in order to  meet thespecific requirements  for the particular herbicide.

No yellow  rust has been spotted on wheat in the area  as yet but careshould be taken to include a rust active fungicide in the programme atT1 or may be even at T0 as a large number of wheat varieties in thefield at present are susceptible to yellow rust. Septoria is present onthe older leaves albeit slowed down by the cold weather.

Winter barley crops are looking clean but in need of warm weather.

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