West: Acres of grassweed contact herbicide still to apply

Despite little rain and brief spells of sunshine, spring 2015 has been slow to get into gear. Some spring contact grassweed treatments have been made on wheat crops  – but there are many acres still to treat. Being careful to ensure targets to be treated are dry and actively growing has hopefully optimised grassweed control. This has meant restricting treatments to the middle of the day.

The backlog means that the next job of applying TO fungicide mixes is not far away. Luckily, the weather has not been conducive to disease so far, but we are all aware that this can change quickly – especially now that the  fungicide programme needs to be based on strong preventative-based treatments. It could be busy over Easter.

We now have a few wheat varieties with better disease resistance. There may be a chance to reduce the fungicide input slightly on these. There doesn’t appear to be much scope to reduce the number of applications, but products and rates may be adjusted by variety. However, even some of the more resistant varieties like Scout responded well last year.

Looking back to 2014 harvest, now that the stores have been emptied and tonnages confirmed, it appears we had some very high yielding crops locally – better than we thought. Some bean crops yielded 6t/ha (spring and winter varieties) and several winter oat crops produced  yields of over 8t/ha – that’s a huge amount of oats! These crops were all grown with fairly robust input programmes – but were also grown on soils that were in good condition with good nutrient status.

As we go into spring 2015, planting has gone well on the easier, lighter soils. But it’s different on the colder, wetter clay soils – we will need a warm, wet growing season and a good helping of luck to allow these crops to produce anything approaching last year’s yields. Increasing the seed rates of these later sown crops may help to compensate for later drilling, and we hope they will hit the ground running.

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