2004/05 Crop Watch – Scot/North

July 12 2005

Patrick Stephenson – independent agronomist

The first winter barley is likely to be harvested around July 16. Winter wheat looks promising, despite worries through the year about rooting and soil condition. A good flowering period and lower incidences of midge have lead to a good grain set.

If the weather will now co-operate then harvest may not be bad. An overview of the season, from my perspective, shows a robust triazole programme in the wheat has given good disease control.

The main talking points have been mildew control and the disease problems in Robigus. There will no doubt be a re-appraisal of the disease ratings to reflect these issues.

Next years variety choice will, on this years experience, not see any huge changes with a continued decline in Consort a slight increase in Robigus. Soft wheat will continue to dominate but slightly down on this years total area.

Backward oilseed rape crops show signs of stem canker and do not look very promising. Early well-established rape looks better with good pod set and even maturity.

Weather patterns and fungicide use have not favoured sclerotinia in the winter crop. Spring rape has now finished flowering and looks good.

Winter beans are at the end of flowering and pod set has been good. Autumn establishment was not good, so for some fields all I can say is heaven help the combine driver!

Peas and linseed established poorly and open “gappy” crops have meant difficult weed control. Flowering is nearly complete and the peas have had fungicide and aphid sprays.

As we approach the end of another agronomy season don’t forget the grain store. Cool everything as quickly as possible and monitor the grain. ‘Twelve months in the making three weeks in the ruining.’ Good harvest!


July 5 2005

Peter Wastling – McCreath Simpson & Prentice

As winter barley harvest fast approaches it is time to reflect on the efficacy of programmes.

Prothioconazole mixes like Fandango have proved their worth against rhynchosporium in a year which has suited spread of the disease. Acanto (picoxystrobin) and Amistar (azoxystrobin) are the two strobilurins of choice in barley.

T2 sprays on spring barley should now be completed, inclusion of chlorothalonil a must to aid Ramularia control and avoid late applications of fenpropimorph formulations.

Pearl, Pict and Camion winter barley varieties are worth consideration and until varieties like Westminster or Tipple get the maltsters green light, Optic still rules the spring barley list.

Robigus wheat seems to have weathered the storm and is set to be a principal variety in the Borders, but ignore its yellow rust weakness at your peril and don’t take Septoria tritici levels lightly.

A return to robust rates of triazole, especially Opus (epoxiconazole) have been effective in the fight against septoria and epoxiconazole remains the best of the bunch. Prothioconazole is a close second – its weakness apparently a lack of kick back.

High rates of cheaper triazoles have been very effective in Robigus and would be preferable to lower rates of epoxiconazole or prothioconazole. I wait to see how effective the new active boscalid has been, but I suspect its early use for eyespot control may be its main claim to fame.

T3 sprays on group 1 wheats like Solstice and Malacca should revolve around Amistar and Tebuconazole while other varieties should still benefit from a tebuconazole/ mancozeb mix.

Blight warnings abound locally at the moment so keep blight applications on potatoes on a tight schedule.

As we take a summer break I wish you all a successful harvest and look forward to the challenges of the new cropping year.


June 28 2005

Ron Paterson – Robertson Crop Services

Winter Barley
Crops this year are very healthy thanks to the application of fungicide mixes containing the new triazole (prothioconazole). The mixes have kept rhynchosporium at very low levels.

Crops are at grain fill stage about 7 to 10 days later than normal. Grower will have to keep a close watch for crows over the coming weeks as these birds can do much damage in a short period of time.

Harvest this year will be into August, pre-harvest Roundup (glyphosate) might be an option to look at with diesel at the price it is.

Winter Wheat
Most crops approaching T3 spray timing (w/c 27th June). Septoria can be found quite easily on Riband, but no trace of the disease can be found on Robigus and Consort.

Remember in Aberdeenshire it is a long time between T3 application and harvest, so apply a good Strobilurin/ triazole mix that will last the pace if wet weather is to return.

Spring Barley
Two thirds of crops are at growth stage 49 (first awns) (w/e 26/6). Rhynchosporinum can be found on Optic, but the level of infection depends on product choice at T1.

Ramulularia, Abiotic spotting and fusarium will need to be covered with sprays:- don’t forget to include chlorothalonil. On later crops there is still time for wild oat control.


June 21 2005

Allen Scobie – Scottish Agronomy

Spring barleys are close to awn tip and now require their final fungicide before the heads emerge. Aphids are beginning to colonise some crops and they may require treatment if thresholds are exceeded.

Many growers are deliberating over whether to swath or desiccate OSR crops, but in light of last years experience I think the swathers will have a light workload.

Wheats are in boot to early ear emergence and head sprays are imminent. Talk of Yellow Rust in Robigus goes on unabated. It is now easier to spot the affected farms with yellow foci beacons glowing from a distance. More care will be needed next season as inocculum builds.

Home Grown Cereals Authority had a Ford Focus 85 on their stand Cereals 2005. This car can run on a mixture of petrol and ethanol (which could be produced from UK wheat).

Ford will now offer ethanol enabled cars across their complete range (Ford Jaguar and Landrover) and General Motors Saab range will also offer a flexible fuel option. The farming industry now awaits commitment from the UK government to kick-start the renewable fuels programme.

Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland will host the G8 summit in two weeks and protesters will voice their concern at the USA’s lack of commitment to climate change. Do they know that America is the second largest producer of renewable fuel in the world with 83 ethanol plants commissioned and another 16 in construction?

Some states sell 10% ethanol blends in all fuel stations. The EU requires member states to incorporate 2% renewable fuel by the end of 2005 and Spain France and Germany have accepted this commitment. The UK government has committed itself to 0.3%. Perhaps the protesters need to target politicians a lot closer to home!


June 14 2005

Patrick Stephenson – independent agronomist

At long last there appears to be some prospect of reasonable crops to harvest! I fear that the barns will not be bursting at the seams but things look a lot better than they did.

My early spring fears for Robigus have come true with yellow rust striking hard. Memories of the variety Slepjner come pouring back.

T3 is essential on this variety and with mildew also present it is an interesting problem. Contributors from the southeast comment on the low disease incidence – please come and visit the North, we have plenty to spare and are willing to share!

The blossom midge phenomenon is sweeping the area. We have reached threshold in quite a few places but certainly not every situation and this has led to mix and match spray approach.

Winter barley and winter oilseed rape have had the gate shut and in the main look good.

The only question I have is that where application was delayed at T1, there has been a significant problem controlling Net blotch – is this a product weakness, or a seasonal issue?

Late drilled winter rape (15/09/04) is still flowering and looks as though harvest will clash with wheat! Winter beans look fantastic and, where simazine was missed, continue my theme for the year of enhancing the colour pallet of Ryedale with the brilliant yellow flush of charlock.

Spring crops in general do not look good and have suffered from the atrocious weather. Spring barley is approaching awns emerging and will receive its final fungicide.

The Cereals Event will be interesting to gauge the overall industry expectations for the future. My main targets during the two days will be assessing new varieties, new grass weed products, new seed treatments and how to make a profit for my clients!


June 7 2005

Peter Wastling – McCreath Simpson & Prentice

What a difference 350 miles makes; drought in the south, continuing rainfall in the Borders, at times torrential.

Despite that, crop disease levels are generally low, but the potential for disease spread is big once the weather warms up and the waterlogged soils release their moisture back through the crops.

Winter barley programmes are all but complete and most crops are now in full ear. If a flag leaf ear spray has not been applied, use a triazole, chlorothalonil, strobilurin combination to protect against ramularia and rhynchosporium.

Winter wheat is now at flag leaf emergence, Septoria tritici susceptible varieties are most at risk e.g. Consort. Use ¾ rate triazole plus chlorothalonil and reduce the strobilurin rate to ½ or 1/3.

Yellow rust in Robigus remains a minor problem but most outbreaks have been effectively controlled. A note of interest is that where seed was treated with Baytan (fuberidazole + imidacloprid + triadimenol), yellow rust was either insignificant or non-existent.

Most spring barley crops are now at T1 and given the weather, concentrate on rhynchosporium control. The new active Prothioconazole has given excellent control levels in trials.

Winter oilseed rape crops are now at end of flowering. If no mid-flower fungicides applied, consider later application for alternaria control. Present conditions are perfect for development of this disease.

Watch out for pollen beetle in spring rape crops. Most spring beans are now at first flower and chocolate spot and downy mildew have been reported in the area.

Potatoes are a mixed bag with some just drilled and some slowly meeting in row. Suggest a systemic based blight spray for first applications as plant development is slow due to cold wet soil conditions. Watch out for varietal susceptibility with herbicides, as later sown potatoes could come through the ground quite quickly.


May 31 2005

Ron Paterson – Robertson Crop Services

Torrential downpours of rain and hail this past week (w/e May 29) have brought field operations virtually to a stand still. Operators spraying between the showers are finding it difficult to stay above ground level.

Winter Barley
Most crops are ready for T2 sprays, rhynchosporium levels are low where new chemistry has been used.

Ramularia and Abiotic spotting will have to be taken into consideration on choice of products for T2 sprays, if wet weather is to continue fusarium control in six row varieties will be required as well.

Winter Wheat
Most crops are at T2 spray timing (GS 37 to GS 39). Septoria is on the increase in Riband, so a robust rate of triazole will be required – the inclusion of a strobilurin is still justified.

Make time to get T2 sprays applied – very important to protect yields. This is also the last chance for growth regulator application, have you applied enough in light of weather conditions? No yellow rust has been seen in Robigus.

Spring Barley
This is our main crop in Aberdeenshire and the weather of the past week (w/e May 29) is making life very difficult, spray timings are being missed, ground conditions won’t carry sprayers.

Growth stages are from GS 15 to GS 30. Weed sprays are being delayed; weeds are getting larger so rates will have to be increased. Where sprays are delayed, it is advisable to include your fungicide – prevention is the best road to take.

There are few signs of rhynchosporium on Optic and other susceptible varieties, but it has to come.


May 26 2005

Allen Scobie – Scottish Agronomy

The six-row winter barley crops are at awn tip and the final T2 sprays are going on to target mildew, rhynchosporium and brown rust. This will also control the ramularia and abiotic spotting that slashed winter barley yields by 25% in 2002.

No meaningful control can be achieved after the ears have emerged so thank goodness we have a window in the weather to apply these T2’s.

The wet weather in late April has taken its toll on some of the spring barleys where cultivation marks and wet holes are apparent. There is no quick fix for these problems and applying foliar feeds are a forlorn hope.

The majority of the spring barley crops look well but rhynchosporium and mildew are already visible in Optic and other susceptible varieties. T1 sprays will be applied at stem extension to first node.
Oilseed rape crops have been flowering for weeks, which may auger well for yields but prolonged flowering, coupled with showery weather, will most likely increase the risk of Sclerotinia. This may be the first big test for the new flowering treatments to see if they maintain control until the infection period is over.

Early wheats are now at T2 (GS37-39) and are ready for their most important foliar treatment. Trials data still highlights a yield benefit from strobilurins but no control of resistant isolates of Septoria. In light of the fact that there is no hierarchy of strobilurins to resistant isolates, growers would do well to apply a robust rate of an effective triazole at this timing and buy their strobilurin on price.

Yellow rust in Robigus still eludes us up here in the North in spite of sabre rattling from some interested parties.


17 May, 2005

Patrick Stephenson – independent agronomist

“Ne’er cast a clout, ’til May is out”. Looking back at the March report, I had cast my winter woolies and rashly strode off into the fields!

Now, I am scurrying about searching for hat and coat as bitterly cold north and east winds pepper the area. This has made beet spraying very interesting, with two ground frosts already this week.

2005 appears to be the year of the rainbow. A combination of sprays and wet and cold weather, has meant that I have seen all the colours of the rainbow on combinable crops this year.

T1 sprays on Consort created a bright yellow response, thankfully short lived. It is at times like this that you start to question your persistence with this variety.

100 mm of rain in the last four weeks has created a witches brew of septoria in susceptible varieties. In addition, with the shift in sensitivity of septoria to triazoles, at current prices, you start to worry about cost effective control.

Winter barley has received its final growth regulator. I wish I could say that this was on all crops, due to their tremendous potential; unfortunately very few drop into this category!

I was very interested to see in the product manual, for late growth regulators, that in the last two seasons, there has been a significant change in the wording for water volumes. It used to state a water volume recommendation of 200 litres/ha. It now states a minimum quantity of 220 litres/ha. Reducing volumes could have several implications including Health and Safety

Recent cold weather has made rape flowering a never-ending process. However most sclerotinia sprays have been applied despite yield potential not looking too exciting!

SFP forms are now in and its time for the crayons and entry level scheme!


10 May 2005

Peter Wastling – McCreath Simpson & Prentice

Agronomy by proxy is very much in fashion but there is no substitute for feet in the fields under the prevailing conditions.

Very low seasonal temperatures and wet weather have resulted in cold wet soils delaying growth stages in many arable crops in the Borders.

Winter wheat is generally between GS 31/32 and T1 sprays should be applied as soon as possible. Septoria tritci is evident in all susceptible varieties e.g. Consort and a good rate of epoxiconazole or prothioconazole should be applied in the tank mix.

Eyespot risk is high and should be considered in any T1 programmes. Look closely for mildew, as normally resistant varieties are infected and require treating at an early stage. At later growth stages the fungi source is difficult to target.

Yellow rust continues to be reported in Robigus.

Rhynchosporium and net blotch are present in winter barley, prothioconazole and flutriafol with strobilurins are suggested here.

Plant growth has slowed but warmer weather will accelerate growth stages, winter barley flag leaf emergence is imminent and don’t miss the late growth regulator, there could be a lot of compensatory growth.

Late sown spring barley has capped in many cases and may well benefit from a light harrowing. Disease programmes should cover rhynchosporium and net blotch and cross infection from winter barley.

Late drilling and delayed establishment suggest that growth manipulators may be extra beneficial this season.

Potato planting is haphazard and heavy rainfall may well affect the residual activity of herbicides. Consider additives which will aid retention of the herbicide at the correct level in the soil profile.

Is there anybody out there called Noah? Preferably one who owns an ark!


3 May 2005

Ron Paterson – Robertson Crop Services

Very low night temperatures this past week (w/e May 1) has slowed crop growth in Aberdeenshire.

Winter Barley
Most winter barley is between Growth Stage 31-32. T1 sprays (triazole + strobilurin mix) have been delayed due to windy conditions. In these crops rhynchosporium can be seen – application rates might have to be adjusted.

Growth Regulator requirement will have to be assessed this coming week in the more advanced high fertile crops. Crops that require wild oat treatment will have to be sprayed with Grasp + wetter pre GS 41.

Winter Wheat
Well established early drilled crops are at GS 31. These crops are currently receiving their T1 spray – a triazole-based product with eyespot activity, such as Tracker (Boscalid + Epoxiconazole) would be a suitable choice.

Using a triazole at T1 allows a strob-based product to be used at T2 and T3, which is a must for Aberdeenshire.

Winter OSR
Recent cold weather has delayed flowering with only a few crops of Elan at mid flower.
Mid flower sprays will have to be planned for the coming week – remember not to cut corners – Sclerotinia can be devastating.

Pollen beetles are at low levels meantime, but keep monitoring as temperatures rise.

Spring Barley
With sowing nearing completion, the bulk of spring barley is at GS 11 to GS13 (w/e May 1). Top dressing should be a priority. Leatherjackets in crops after grass are requiring spraying with chlorpyrifos.

Crops at GS 13 will be ready for herbicide treatment, use mixes to avoid resistances.

Remember the May 16 deadline for SFP application – miss this and you will miss out. Take time out from field operations and get these forms filled out its your future.

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