Spud Special: Dry soils hamper herbicide activity

Planting is progressing at a steady pace in Scotland and seems to be catching up the area planted last year at this stage. After a steady period of dry weather, the big question on every one’s mind is where is the sunshine to help with the making of the beds?

Another question relates to the potential of a high carry over tonnage, whether this will be used up and if not, the effect that this may have on this year’s crop outcome. The colder planting conditions in Europe potentially leading to reduced yields will maybe help to balance this out. The market place is already reporting reduced tonnages of imports e.g. from Jersey and Mediterranean countries.  

In many of the crops in Scotland soil conditions in the first 20-25cm below level ground are good and surface cultivations have been greatly assisted by the frost mould although it is below this where potential problems may lie. This is leading to a greater use of bed-tillers, compared to recent years.

Since the last time of writing, foliage of the earliest planted crops, both under fleece and open crops is now the size of a tennis ball up to side plate. Weed control in these crops has been reasonably satisfactory although warmer weather with some additional moisture may allow additional residual activity to improve this picture.

The main concern for the majority of later planted crops is the dryness of ridge and the effect that this may have on residual herbicide effect. This is not being helped by the consistently cold drying wind.

The greater quantity of some contact herbicides that has recently been approved may help clean up the emerged weeds although with the dry conditions there will be as great a reliance on residual herbicides. It will be a good test with regard to their water solubility this year.

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