West: Take care applying nitrogen when assessing lodging risk

The recent dry and cold spell has allowed spring barley drilling to progress into some good seed-beds. Nitrogen and sulphur will be applied as soon as the tramlines are visible.

Peas will be sown from 20 March, but given the limited post-emergence options, a robust pre-emergence herbicide will be applied.

Where frost lift is a problem, winter cereals will benefit from rolling.  A degree of planning is required so this does not interfere with herbicide applications or vice versa.

The cold weather means we have held off Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) applications.  A balance needs to be struck between conditions at application whilst not letting the blackgrass get too big.  Hindsight will be the true test of whether we get this tricky decision right.

Nitrogen rates this year on wheat have been nudged up a bit given the grain:nitrogen break-even ratio. Careful timing of fertiliser applications will be necesary in order to manage lodging risk. The first nitrogen application is being delayed on thick/forward crops until mid-March. Given the two previous dry springs, there is a reluctance to delay nitrogen applications for too long.

In wheat, Septoria tritici can be found on older leaves, and downy mildew is developing in some crops.  Susceptible varieties are being monitored closely for yellow rust, and the T0 fungicides planned for late March/early April will include a triazole.

I am reserving judgement on how well January applications of propzyamide/carbetamide have worked in rape crops. Whilst we wait we can contemplate cultural control methods.

The majority of oilseed rape crops have now received some nitrogen, and are begining to show signs of growth.  In thick/forward rape crops a triazole fungicide with plant growth regulator actvity is planned at the stem extension stage.

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