Harbour fights back
by Andrew Blake
PESTICIDES and fertiliser for oilseed rape and winter linseed are uppermost in barometer farmer Bill Harbours mind on our first revisit to Gosmere Farm, Faversham, Kent.
The 20ha (50 acres) of first time Oliver winter linseed came through the winter well, thanks, Mr Harbour suspects, to a 15cm (6in) covering of snow in the cold snap.
The 1.5litres/ha of Treflan (trifluralin) applied straight after drilling and rolling has done a good job. But volunteer wheat and wild oats on the headlands, and vigorous cleavers and mayweeds which grow well on the deep brickearth, need tackling soon to avoid crop competition. Laser (cycloxydim) with oil should take care of the monocots, but the broadleaved weeds present a poser.
Rumours are that Eagle (amidosulfuron) proved particularly useful last year, but it is not yet approved for the crop. The probable alternative for this spring is Basagram (bentazone) plus Vindex (bromoxynil + clopyralid), he notes.
With N use on last seasons UK crop ranging from 30-200kg/ha (25-160 units/acre) according to Semundo, Mr Harbour plans to use the average of 68kg/ha (55 units/acre) to counter the risk of lodging on the fertile land. "We shall apply a bag now and then probably top up with 25 units depending how it looks."
Big differences in the growth of oilseed rape means extra care will be required with inputs, he believes. On brickearth Apex, Arietta, and the hybrids Synergy and Pronto have romped away. A small area – about 1ha (2.5 acres) – hit by slugs and pigeons will be gapped up with Kova spring rape.
By contrast Capitol and Amber drilled earlier on poorer land present a sorry picture after extensive pigeon damage. Close inspection shows most growing points remain.
"All the rape had 3cwt/acre of 12:20:20 in the seed-bed and a bag of Sulphurgold (30N:19S) in the last few days of January." Tiger 90 pellets also went on in the autumn mainly to ensure the hybrids had adequate sulphur.
The question from now on is how much more nitrogen and sulphur will be needed for the respective crops – and when. "The plan was to go on with another two bags of Sulphurgold very shortly and follow up with three bags of Nitram within about 10 days."
The thinner stand can probably do with all the help it can get, he says. But recent Notts University work (Arable Jan 24) suggests it may pay to delay the N on the most forward crops for a while to avoid creating too dense a canopy.
An added problem with the poorer stand has been its unevenness. This means the chance to tackle a heavy charlock infestation with Fortrol (cyanazine) on the relatively undamaged headlands has been missed.n
Pronto hybrid rape has grown well and the bushy plants should soon hide the gaps say Bill Harbour.
• W linseed due for herbicide and some N.
• W rape fertiliser under the microscope.
• W barley N scheduled soon.