North: Winter still not over

In late-September last year I suggested that the harvest was not over in the north. How true it seems. A field of oats in Banffshire was combined a fortnight ago.

During that week of good weather hundreds of acres of straw was baled too as well as a large acreage of stubble being “winter ploughed”. Some spring grain sowing has started on lighter ground.

Compound fertiliser has been applied to those crops that missed out in the autumn and nitrogen has gone on to oilseed rape and winter barley crops. However, all this activity will have ground to halt this weekend with heavy rain and up to 2 inches of snow in many parts of the country.

On winter barley crops there is evidence of old mildew and the occasional trace of net blotch or rhynchosporium. When weather permits, a low cost fungicide should be sufficient to clean the crop up until GS 31 which is the optimum timing for disease control in this crop.

Winter wheat crops are, on the whole, looking reasonably clean. Oakley, Robigus and Viscount will be monitored for yellow rust and all crops will be checked for the presence of mildew. Fungicides based on a variety of active ingredients (eg. Epoxiconazole + Fenpropimorph + Metrofenone) can be a positive start to maintaining a strong anti-resistance strategy.

Most later-drilled wheats have yet to receive a spray for weeds and, in general, levels of both broad-leaved and grassweeds are low. However, at this time of year, this can be deceptive as many weed species will have another flush to come.

In the main, there are a number of contact spray options for broad-leaved weeds, but the choices for annual meadowgrass control are becoming limited as the cut-off dates/growth stages have been reached. It is important to check individual product labels for these timings.

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