Lush crops forge ahead but cant race disease

Article taken from The Scottish Farmer

Despite the risk of ‘speaking too soon,’ this kind Scottish winter looks like leaving above average potential for crops.

Agrovista’s agronomist, Grant Reid, told the SF that the winter has been so benign that crops have continued to actively grow, leaving crops with a lot of potential.

“In a typical season, we would have had a lot of really cold snaps, causing crops to have shut down completely.  This year you can count the number of hard frosts on one hand,” he said.

He added that some regions – like Perthshire and Angus where he is based – have had a lot of rainfall, but as flooded or wet ground starts to dry out, farmer should be looking to get started on the early spring tasks but bear in mind the advanced nature of crops.

“Plants are looking well.  In a ‘normal’ year autumn-drilled cereals would have gone into and out of winter at perhaps the 2-4 leaf stage, whilst this year many are already at the tillering stage.”

There is a downside to big, lush plants – and that’s disease.  “Mildew in wheat and barley is usually halted by frosts, this hasn’t happened, added to this septoria is easily seen in a lot of the wheat.”

He has noticed that oilseed rape is starting to come under attack from pigeons, with reports of crops in the central belt being ‘ravaged’.  “Rape crops have a good range of growth stages but the majority are at ankle height (6-plus leaves) with many not getting the ‘winter kill’ of leaves that we’d expect.

“Root collars are at least generally 1cm wide, which is a strong indicator that crops will have a good start come the spring from the extensive root mass.”

His advice for early spring agronomy is to “protect, protect, protect – farmers must not throw away yield potential because of poor disease protection.”

He also predicts that thick crop canopies could lead to lodging in both cereal and oilseed rape crops.  “In the early T0 spray I will be recommending adding a PGR for overwintered barley, wheat and oilseed rape; for the cereals, Canopy PGR will help retain yielding tillers.”

In oilseed rape crops, Mr Reid recommends Caryx – the only PGR on the market for oilseed rape.  “Not only will Caryx reduce the risk of lodging, it will also ensure better seed set and pod fill and there for yield.”

In T0 sprays for barley, he suggests applying Torch for early disease control and Flexity to target mildew, as well as manganese and copper.  For winter wheat, he recommends cyproconazole plus Corbel or Flexity for mildew control and adding some manganese.


10 March 2014

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