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Crop Advice & Expertise

Scotland: 3 key agronomy tips for November

In a wet autumn, Grant Reid urges growers not to give up on winter wheat sowing just yet and offers some advice on OSR disease control and general pest management

This month’s key messages

  • Winter wheat crops can perform well when sown in November
  • Check wheat variety suitability to later establishment ahead of drilling
  • Protect crops against light leaf spot with Proline where sprayers can travel
  • Monitor slugs and birds and take action to prevent grazing damage

Crop progress

The last week or so of October saw fine and frosty weather across parts of central Scotland, so tattie growers were able to get lifting again, but in general it has been very wet. As of the start of November there is still a lot of ground that hasn’t been sown with winter cereals.

I suspect the majority of growers have given up on getting winter wheat crops in, particularly on the heavier land, and that is a concern. It may mean a significantly higher area of spring crops next year as a result, particularly spring barley. It would be a good idea to think about potential alternatives, as the market will be saturated.

 

Grant’s agronomy tips for November:

1. Check wheat varieties for late sowing suitability

For those with outstanding wheat drilling at the start of November, remember that if we do get a spell of dry and frosty weather, there is still a chance of getting seed in the ground and producing a high-yielding crop. However, attention needs to be paid to variety when drilling so late. The AHDB Recommended List has data on suitability for late sowing, so utilise that information before deciding whether to sow seed that is sat in the shed or not.

Where there is an opportunity to sow late and you can get a pre-emergence herbicide such as Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican) on, then do so. If conditions don’t allow, don’t worry too much, as we do have a backup plan for grass- and broad-leaved weed control in spring with products like Othello (diflufenican + iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron).

2. Protect against light leaf spot in OSR

Ideally, you want the stem collar of oilseed rape plants to be a minimum of 1cm in diameter going into the winter, which improves chances of the growing away in the spring. Some oilseed rape crops are up and away and a good size, but many others won’t make that.

With conditions suiting light leaf spot development so far, the disease has the potential to significantly damage these smaller crops. Consider disease risk and variety resistance rating and where appropriate, apply an autumn fungicide if sprayers can travel. A 0.46L/ha rate of Proline (prothioconazole) will offer the best protection.

Many farmers will be trying to go through the crop with trace elements, insecticide for rape winter stem weevil or a second graminicide anyway, so fungicide treatments can be added to tie up a number of jobs in one pass. With the plants established and a lot already invested in the crop, it is worth protecting against disease.

3. Watch out for pests in slow growing crops

With late-sown and slow growing cereal and oilseed rape crops widespread in parts of Scotland, keep monitoring for slugs as they are still very active. These should be treated with the appropriate bait pellets where grazing is seen. Birds such as geese and pigeons are also being seen and keeping them off these smaller crops is essential to prevent grazing and potentially terminal damage.

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