South: Potatoes in the ground signal spring has arrived

Despite the wet and odd frost the growing season is underway – spuds in the ground must mean that spring has arrived! Pre-emergence herbicides have been applied to the first early potatoes planted under fleece, though the weather is making planting a stop-start affair.

Some useful plant growth reglation and disease control is evident on the rape crops that were so forward through the winter- as much of the leaf area, including the phoma and leaf spot lesions, is wearing grey feathers and perched in trees. The root mass is good and crowns intact so recovery of the crop from grazing won’t be an issue, but keeping the birds off until stem extension builds up a head of steam is desirable. Whilst the HOLL varieties remain largely clean, a little light leaf spot has appeared in Quartz. This was treated early with an SDHI/strobilurin mixture that has given good control.

Mud on the roads shows that top dressing is underway. In wheat, P and K are being addressed first – compost achieves this affordably and usefully tops up organic matter in the process.

There is significantly more Septoria on leaves five and six now than was present by mid-April last year. Brown rust is in Crusoe and Yellow rust in Claire. In my area we haven’t had sufficient cold weather to kill out either. As a result my T0 recommendations will include a robust rate of fast moving triazoles (tebuconazole or cyproconazole) partnered with a good dose of chlorothalonil to restrict the spread of septoria.

The first flush of wild oats has been easily controlled. Tame (volunteer) oats are a tougher proposition – overcoming the blackgrass herbicides which need pepping up with either clodinafop or fenoxaprop.

The brakes are coming off the drills, but not on the heavier land. A decent soil temperature and seed-bed will produce a far better yield than smearing a crop into cold ground.

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