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Although some of the 2018 sugar beet crop is still to be drilled improving weather and ground conditions will see growers catch up quickly. Consequently, the crop will, in reality, be only a few weeks behind schedule.

Once sowing is complete however, the warm weather will bring a flurry of jobs from fertilising to weed control, so what can growers do now to help themselves once the crop emerges? Roger Bradbury, Bayer senior technical agronomist shares his views.

  1. Avoid over-working soils

Spring has arrived with a bang with warm air sending temperatures soaring. Growers have been busy drilling, but the crop will emerge quickly. It is perhaps ironic, that after waiting so long for the ground to dry enough to enable drilling, growers will soon need to preserve moisture to ensure good establishment.

“In the space of only about 10 days, daytime temperatures have gone from single figures to more than 20oC, at which level open soils could quickly dry out. Good yields begin with good establishment so seek to preserve moisture by avoiding over-working soils or leaving them open to evaporation, especially on more exposed fields.”

  1. Think carefully about mixing foliar nutrients with herbicides

It can be tempting to address nutrient deficiencies such as manganese (Mn) when applying herbicides. If considering adding nutrients or adjuvants be aware that this can hot up the mix and can check growth.

  1. Be ready to apply herbicides

Crops will emerge quickly and grow rapidly, and this means the young plants will be more vulnerable to herbicide damage so choose products wisely and, where possible, avoid spraying the crop during the heat of the day (21oC). Instead, apply in the early morning and late afternoon when temperatures are cooler, and the crop is under less stress.

“Weeds will be equally quick to grow so be ready to apply herbicides soon after drilling. Fat-hen can go from cotyledon to four true leaves in about 10 days so good herbicide timing is crucial. The high efficacy and unique oil dispersion (OD) formulation of Betanal maxxPro (desmedipham + ethofumesate + lenacil + phenmedipham) gives flexibility of use, something that will be crucial with rapidly growing weeds.

“With later drilled crops there is also the need to avoid herbicide programmes that may check growth. The crop needs to reach canopy complete quickly so avoid mixes combining many different products as these are generally quite hot.”

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