North: Wheat bulb fly threat is high

After a couple of weeks of inactivity, everyone had been wondering whether when we would be able to travel on the ground. But a couple of days of dry weather has brought renewed optimism. The fertiliser spinners and seed drills are out again – and there’s even a hint of sprayers being warmed up.

Any remaining autumn crops that have not received a sniff of nitrogen are now getting some applied to try and get some tillers moving after the last couple of dry springs. Holding off with the first dose certainly does not work. The main dose will still go on at GS30/31 but we are some way off that yet.

Winter barley is really starting to green up and any manganese deficient areas or parts of fields which have suffered with frost are showing up. We are trying to encourage growers to go over with manganese and a tidy up fungicide based on a triazole/morpholine with or without cyprodinil.

This is because there is a low level of active rhynchosporium and mildew in these crops and this would just hold it so the T1 can be timed correctly. This also means that at T1 we are not dealing with such a hot mix of fungicide/pgr/manganese and hopefully reduces any negative crop effects.

Winter wheat is starting to turn green, from the horrible purple colour it has been but still mostly just at early tiller stage and a while off the T0 timing, which most growers will be doing as we have a lot of rust susceptible varieties in the ground and it just buys the time to the T1 timing.

The main focus with wheat at the moment is completing any weed control left from autumn on backward crop. On the whole, crops are generally clean. Treatments are being based on Picona (pendimethalin + picolinafen)/Lexus ((flupyrsulfuron-methyl) combinations and any broadleaved weeds that emerge later will be dealt with at later timings.

The fields which have brome problems are being monitored to decide when best to apply Broadway Star (pyroxsulam + florasulam), although soil temperatures are still only around 6-7C so we will wait a bit longer.

A number of wheats following potatoes this season are showing deadheart wheat bulb fly symptons. Unfortunately, because of the weather we missed the chlorpyrifos egg hatch spray timings and are now using the fire brigade dimetheoate treatment, but also encouraging growers to roll and apply nitrogen to encourage plants to tiller and hopefully compensate.

Drilling spring crops is very slow because a lot of winter-ploughed ground is still saturated underneath the surface. But with a few dry days, the ground should start to dry out to make a good seed-bed. Seed rates of spring crops should be looked at depending on drilling conditions and time of sowing as spring cropping can’t rely on tillering to compensate for poor plant population.

Hopefully, this season we will see a more normal spring without any extreme weather events – but we do live in Britain.

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