VIDEO: Crop Watch – Initial assessment of challenging spring

The legacy of early drilling and unfavourable spraying conditions is being borne out in combinable crops as final spray programmes are implemented.

In the south one of the most demanding agronomy seasons in memory looks set to leave a decidedly mixed bag of winter wheat yields, says Iain Richards.

A critical lesson is the need to match drilling date to varietal speed of development, with a clear eye on spraying capacity. Those who were drilled up in just 7-10 days last September really made a rod for their spraying back this spring; especially if they failed to employ a good foliar disease-active seed treatment on rust susceptible varieties.

As Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) becomes less and less effective, the lesson in blackgrass control is equally clear. Drilling vulnerable land without sufficient delay for good cultural control is simply not on, he advises.

In the west Bryce Rham has never seen crops under so much septoria pressure. Losing everything below leaf three is a bit of a shock, he notes. In oilseed rape atrocious weather at flowering meant every crop was sprayed twice for late sclerotinia.

Northern wheats are just awaiting a head spray, continues Hamish Coutts. A strong triazole will be the keystone, plus chlorothalonil, remembering to check label restrictions.

Although spring barleys look clean, mid-tillering and crop booting sprays will be worthwhile, he suggests. Leaf wetness probably means raised ramularia risk. Prothioconazole-based products, with chlorothalonil, perform well, and SDHI chemistry has looked good in trial. High risk periods mean potato blight control needs to start promptly.

Yield potential for most first and subsequent wheats in the east is excellent, says Marion Self. Showers during floweing mean a robust ear spray should provide a good margin over investment. Keep an eye on aphid colonies in wheat and pulses, and check for pea moth and midge too, she advises.

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