Archive Article: 2000/08/04

4 August 2000

Spotlight on south-west Barometer grower

With combining delayed at Huish Farm, Merton, North Devon until last Monday, Mark Stevens views strobilurins as a mixed blessing.

Initial yields look good, but he also faces his latest harvest since taking over operations five years ago. Widespread use of the new fungicides is largely to blame, he believes.

"It is getting really late here. Most of our wheat is still five days off at least because of the combined effect of the weather and strobilurins. We are certainly experiencing a time penalty at the moment from using them. That wont matter if we eventually get the yield, but I have a sneaky feeling that there may just be too many downsides. In the past we would have been able to bale our barley straw straight away. Now we shant be able to get on for three days because it is still so green."

Elsewhere on contract-harvested land, where he believes triazoles formed the basis of programmes, some barleys were cut nearly three weeks ago.

A 20ha (50-acre) block of five small fields of Regina feed barley was first to be tackled at Huish. The first, after wheat, delivered 6.4t/ha (2.6t/acre), about average. "But the rest after linseed is doing over 3t/acre and it all has a good bold berry. We used Twist on it, which kept the whole crop green longer, but that also halved the combine speed."

Moisture, at first 16.5%, soon fell to 14% before drizzle stopped progress with about a third done.

"Maybe I should have used some pre-harvest glyphosate. But it is another £5/acre including application, and if we are using strobs we really want to allow crops to keep going as long as possible to make the most of them."

Normal policy is to cut wheat no higher then 20% moisture. "This season we might have to be prepared to go up to 25%. But it would be getting expensive. Diesel is up to 19p/litre. Last year it was only 12p."

Green straw has delayed harvest progress at Huish Farm, where Mark Stevens believes strob fungicides are largely to blame. Good yields will be needed to compensate.

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