West: Dry seed-beds causing concern

Drilling has carried on apace in the four weeks since my last entry.  Concern is now mounting over dry seed-beds which are bound to hinder pre-emergence herbicide activity.  Almost incessant wind has made spraying difficult and the strong aroma of certain materials (yellow peril) means extra vigilance is required.

Any dry cloddy patches are slow to emerge although thankfully slug levels have been low – so far! One bonus has been some of the best conditions for years for maize harvesting and subsequent crop establishment.

The other obvious yellow peril is flowering charlock in winter oilseed rape.  We will consider an early dose of bifenox (SOLA) where the crop is well advanced.  Last year best frost kill was seen on pre-treated weeds.

Phoma can be found at very low levels in most rape crops.  A return to showery weather will cause rapid spread of spotting, but with little rain forecast we are keeping our powder dry for the moment.  A few crops had PGR triazoles at four leaves in September. Advanced crops are now too big to respond and the focus of our PGR inputs will be at stem extension next spring.

Mid September-sown wheat is now tillering and two-leaved blackgrass which survived the pre-emergence treatment is scheduled to receive Atlantis imminently. We will also look at Dow’s GF-2070 (pyroxsulam + flupyrsulfuron-methyl), especially where brome is a big issue.

Be very careful with tank washing in the autumn, the combination of highly active materials, pressure to cover large areas quickly and small crop plants means the potential for damage is high. The major blackgrass SU materials (except Lexus SX) require a comprehensive wash down before the sprayer moves onto sensitive crops such as rape.  Make sure you have tank-wash material in stock and know how to use it.

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