VIDEO: Crop Watch – Many areas still short of rain

The recent rains have helped some crops partially recover, particularly in the north and west, but for many the lack of rain is still a great concern.

In the north, David Cairns of McCreath Simpson and Prentice has seen winter wheat change from a lime green to a racing green colour, as crops picked up nitrogen. “I think most wheat crops lost some tillers during the dry spell, but as we know from last season yield can be compensated in the ear.”

But for some of his clients on lighter ground, he believes the rain has maybe come a bit late.

The decision this week for Mr Cairns, as flag leaves start to emerge, will be product choice for the T2 fungicide and if there is any need for a plant growth regulator.

“Growers in high yield potential sites are still keen to have a look at the new SDHI chemistry, but the rest will receive a strobilurin/triazole mix as rust is still bubbling away. Crops with lower yield potential will have flag leaf sprays based on triazole/chlorothalonil.”

Drought is also having an impact on nitrogen uptake in the east where Marion Self of Prime Agriculture has seen many crops looking thin and pale with uneven growth.

However, there are some exceptional wheat crops, usually drilled in early September, or where fertility is high.

“As forward wheats are at mid-booting it is time to consider orange blossom midge. Already midges have been caught in traps; pupation has been triggered by warm soil temperatures despite the drought.”

Stressed crops are racing through the susceptible growth stages from boot splitting to flowering and, therefore, some may escape the main flush of midge. But, remain vigilant and be ready to protect susceptible crops as required, she says.

In the south, AICC agronomist Tod Hunnisett believes the lack of rainfall this spring is has been made worse by the unseasonably searing temperatures and desiccating north-easterly winds.

“Prices are high so there’s a lot of value to protect, but there is likely to be some yield penalty as a result of the weather and disease levels are generally low.”

Wheat crops are all in ear anything up to two weeks earlier than expected, so my strategy is to keep some protection on the crop without spending too much money. Treatments will, therefore, be based on epoxiconazole and chlorothalonil.

In the west, the situation is less severe and Neil Potts of Matford Arable Systems says winter barley crops which received their nitrogen early are generally looking the best they have for a number of years.

“Providing we get enough rain, they look like they will yield extremely well.

Early-drilled spring barley is generally looking very well but the later-drilled crops have suffered quite badly in the dry. However, they are now improving since the rain.

“Care has had to be taken this year to keep tank mixes simple to avoid scorch, which in some cases has meant multiple trips through the crop with the sprayer, particularly where weed problems have been complex.”

• Read their full reports see our dedicated Crop Watch blog.


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