South: Monitoring for orange blossom midge has started

The ears are out on most winter wheat, so monitoring for orange blossom midge with pheromone traps has commenced on susceptible varieties. The T2 spray went on in good time, and crops look clean. Blackgrass is showing and now’s the time to burn patches off preventing seed return. You’ll kill the suboptimal wheat in the patch, but you’re not increasing blackgrass for the year ahead.

T3 plans are based on mixed azoles and prochloraz where michrodochium is of concern. Dependant upon variety and market it’s worth considering foliar N at milky ripe to boost protein levels.

The gate is shut on oilseed rape for the season with crops looking good. Flowering was drawn out, with petal fall continuing for longer than usual and necessitating a top up fungicide in some cases.

Spring beans are growing strongly and powdery mildew is largely under control. A dose of chlorothalonil (Rover) helps to keep beans clean– but remember that it restricts your market to animal feed. I’ve heard of fines being levied for applying fertiliser to leguminous crops due to the small quantity of N in the formulation of some foliar feeds. Be wary and stick to “N-Free” products on pulses.

Maize is drilled and emerging strongly, with post emergence herbicides applied. Placement fertilisers do get the plants started more rapidly and, though I’ve not yet seen convincing data to support an increase in yield, establishment benefits alone suggest they’re worthwhile.

Now there’s a small pause – it’s time to consider fine tuning next season’s rotation – map the areas to target. Consider blackgrass and broad-leaved weed seed return, cultivations, soil indices, and crop markets. Spring cropping and wider rotations are relevant in reducing costs of production and weed burden, particularly where blackgrass seed return has been allowed to build.

Covercropping overwinter where spring crops are to be sown will catch residual nutrients, increase organic matter, and prevent soil eroding or being colonised by weeds.

 TIP OF THE WEEK

Winter beans are in flower, but I’ve seen little Bruchid Beetle activity – and then only in broad beans. Don’t spray too early – “recreational” spraying is both expensive and irresponsible. Utilise the BruchidCast scheme (see www.syngenta.co.uk) to assess when beetle activity is likely, then – once podset has begun – monitor your fields for beetles and eggs on pods before spraying.

 

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