South: Winter barley races through its growth stages

Well the rain has finally arrived to the South of England and overnight everything looks better for it. Wheat crops are getting their final doses of nitrogen and it’s reassuring to know that it has at least some chance of getting into the plant.

Winter barley has done its usual trick of going from growth stage 31 to flag-leaf over about a five day period. Every year somebody gets caught out somewhere and doesn’t manage to get their Terpal/Upgrade/Cerone-type plant growth regulator sprays on, especially if the weather turns catchy as it has done now.

Oilseed rape is fully in flower and will soon be getting its mid-flowering fungicide. It’s quite easy to find seed weevil in the crop, so an insecticide will be going in with it. Tau-fluvalinate (Mavrik) always makes that decision easier as far as bee safety is concerned.

The dry spell has meant that pre-emergence herbicides on peas and beans may not be so effective this year. Already I’m seeing quite a flush of blackgrass emerging in some crops and the importance of nobbling it early cannot be overstated. So graminicides are going in with weevil sprays or as a separate pass if necessary, making sure that application rates are adequate to do the job properly.

With all my wheats having had a decent dose of fungicide first time round I’m confident that we’re not chasing disease, even though the weather has changed. If it stays shucky though I may have to rethink some plans for future applications; quite painful given the value of wheat at the moment.

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