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Crop Advice & Expertise

5 agronomy tips for East Anglian growers this November

Sam Harvey assesses how the weather has held up drilling and potential agronomic challenges for the month ahead.

Crop Progress

There has been a lot of frustration with the weather in East Anglia. Since the end of September it has been more or less continuously wet. Even when a dry weather window has been forecast, it hasn’t materialised.

It means there’s a huge range of progress for wheat drilling on farms – anything from 30 to 80% complete, with seed bed quality also hugely variable.

It is worth remembering that in challenging grassweed scenarios we don’t want to be drilling before the third week in October, so the delays while hugely frustrating, could still be a blessing, if crops were able to be drilled by the end of October.

If you drill in the latter half of October, you get on average 30% more from your grassweed residual herbicides, and the opportunity to do at least one, if not two stale seedbeds through peak blackgrass germination. But by the time you read this, you’ll know if that weather window appeared.

A good bit of winter barley went in nicely in September, although there are some less than ideal looking headlands. While oilseed rape area has reduced again, there are some well-established crops. If ever there was a year to give oilseed rape another go it was this year with the establishment conditions we’ve had.

We are now getting discussions around first instars of cabbage stem flea beetle larvae, so we will see what that means in terms of the crop potential.


Sam’s agronomy tips for November

1. Apply wheat pre-emergence herbicides within 48 hours of drilling if possible

For those still drilling wheat, best efficacy is achieved if you can get your pre-emergence herbicide on within 48 hours of drilling, if seedbeds and sowing depth allow.

Options for pre-emergence in wheat include our new residual herbicide Proclus (aclonifen) + Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican), which consistently improves black-grass control by 10-15% above Liberator alone, and brome and rye-grass control by up to 10%.

Aclonifen has a new novel, dual mode of action, which is in Herbicide Resistance Action Committee’s group 32 (inhibition of solanesyl diphosphate synthase) by itself, which will help protect flufenacet sensitivity shifts as well as add efficacy. It also has good broad-leaved weed activity.

It is also worth taking that final opportunity to clear up seedbeds ahead of drilling with 540-720 g/ha glyphosate. Products such as Roundup Flex or Roundup Powermax are particularly rainfast and have short cultivation periods.


2. What to do if pre-emergence timing has slipped or the seedbed didn’t allow?

If pre-emergence timing has been missed or if conditions never allowed due to seed coverage, take care when choosing products. Also we have to accept that there will be reduced efficacy.

Results at peri-emergence can be good, but be mindful of product choice because this timing is when the crop is most vulnerable and there is a high risk for potential crop damage. Given current soil moisture and rain we’ve had, take care in choosing tank mix partners for flufenacet, especially pendimethalin, which can be risky on the crop especially in more adverse conditions such as rougher seedbeds, shallow drilled crops or where there is heavy rain after application. Liberator is likely to be a safer to the crop than Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin).

Alternatively to Liberator at early post-emergence in both wheat and barley, our other new products Alternator MET or Octavian MET (flufenacet + diflufenican + metribuzin) offer Group 5 mode of action in metribuzin, alongside the flufenacet and DFF. Performance of these products are particularly suited to this early post-em timing, which can also include a pyrethroid for barley yellow dwarf virus control, if T-Sum thresholds are reached and aphids are present.

In wheat, both products are also an option at 0.5 L/ha to partner with Atlantis OD (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) or Hamlet OD (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + diflufenican). The cut-off for use of Alternator MET or Octavian MET is the end of November, and the maximum dose from 1 October is 0.5 L/ha. So if you’re aiming for a full dose of flufenacet partner with 0.3 L/ha Liberator.

While the focus is very much on getting crops drilled, those who did drill earlier in September on black-grass or rye-grass land might be faced with high populations now. In those situations careful consideration may need to be given to spraying off fields or parts of with Roundup (glyphosate), depending on attitude to risk and seed bank management, although for many I suspect that decision will be delayed until the early spring.


3. Make use of SpotCheck to check disease levels in oilseed rape

With almost perfect conditions for the establishment of many oilseed rape crops I’d be wary of forward crops, especially those with lower light leaf spot resistance scores, particularly bearing in mind how wet it has been.

Bayer’s SpotCheck service is available again to use to assess risk in fields, and allows you to confirm whether light leaf spot is in the crop. If you do need to treat for either light leaf spot or Phoma then Proline (prothioconazole) is a good option as it covers both diseases.


4. Practicing good sugar beet harvesting hygiene will reduce both virus and potential Conviso Smart groundkeeper issues

With huge problems with virus yellows in sugar beet crops this season, good crop hygiene will be paramount during and after sugar beet harvest to minimise carryover of virus into next season.  Virus yellows can survive the winter in aphids, infected beet material and host plant species.

To reduce this threat it is important to minimise harvester losses to reduce potential sources of regrowth, monitor spoil heaps and destroy any growth and control groundkeepers early.

In addition, hygiene of Conviso Smart crops is a crucial part of its stewardship to avoid any potential future weed beet issues. Ensuring any harvester losses is kept to a minimum is even more important on these crops, and we would recommend ploughing after the crop to help groundkeeper control. Remember ALS chemistry won’t control them.

Feedback from growers who grew Conviso Smart this year has been excellent, and given there will be fewer conventional herbicides options next season, without desmedipham, the system might be something some growers want to consider.


5. Make use of your FieldView Drive on compatible equipment to capture field data

If you’re one of the lucky growers to have signed up for our Discover FieldView; try to buy scheme this harvest, make use of the FieldView Drive where you have ISOBUS compatible drills, sprayers or spreaders to capture data from the season start.

If you’re interested in trying FieldView then you find out more about the system here.


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