South: Ground conditions a long way off

As I write I can hear the rain hammering on the windows yet again. Although not in an area that has flooded, we really have had enough of this now. There’s plenty of work to be done, but ground conditions are a long way off yet.  Especially for seed-bed creation – don’t go mauling crops in just because the calendar says we should be, damage to soil structure is likely to do more harm than good. There are places where having a fallow year may well lose less money than trying to grow a crop.

The two jobs at the top of the list, when conditions allow, will be grassweed control in cereals and nitrogen plus sulphur onto barley. Where pre-emergence herbicides were followed by Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron), Broadway Star (florasulam + pyroxsulam) or Unite (flurpyrsulfuron + pyroxsulam) crops are pretty clean.

However, where the post-emergence herbicide has not happened then the blackgrass and/or brome is tillering strongly. The exception to this being where land has been rotationally ploughed and/or drilling has been delayed. The photo below shows this well, in a field where normally there is a carpet of blackgrass, but it was ploughed and then drilled in mid-October.


The later we manage to get these on, the lower the level of control is likely to be. Hopefully we will be able to apply them on their own, as the more products in the tank the more likely we are of getting reductions in levels of grassweed control.

Winter barley crops are turning yellower by the day. They have tillered well, but are desperate for some nitrogen. Barley yield is driven by tiller numbers as it can’t compensate later on in growth. We need to do everything we can to retain the tillers we’ve got, so getting the first hit of nitrogen on as soon as you can travel is important.

Many of the cereal crops would benefit from being rolled this spring to reduce the risk of root lodging. I’m still hoping that things will dry out enough to allow this to happen. I suspect that barley could well be too far forward, but much of the wheat is likely to still be tillering (depending on when it strops raining of course!).

Nearly all oilseed rape is now at stem extension, many with green buds visible and some with green buds extending above the leaf canopy. Where Galera (clopyralid + picloram) or Shield (clopyralid) is planned make sure that buds aren’t extending, as late applications can be very damaging to crops.

Most crops will want growth regulation and canopy management this spring. Caryx (mepiquat + metconazloe) is my first choice product at the moment as it contains a PGR and is formulated specifically for OSR crops. At stem extension it will give more height reduction, at green/yellow bud it will give more canopy management and some height reduction. I will tend to use it at stem extension for best height and lodging reduction effects; with the confidence that with the combination of active ingredients it will also give me good canopy manipulation for yield.

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