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Crop Advice & Expertise

Four agronomy pointers for growers in the west

Matt Siggs looks at what growers will likely prioritise in the west in February.

Crop Progress

Around 95% of wheat was drilled in the autumn, with the last few bits due to be planted in January. But unfortunately, perhaps only 65% received herbicide treatments because of the weather.

There have been good reports from the field of pre-emergence treatments working well, especially of Proclus (aclonifen) + Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican) against some difficult black-grass in Somerset.

Yellow rust has been coming into wheat crops on susceptible varieties, but the cold weather in January will have knocked it back a bit.

Oilseed rape crops had reached 6-8 true leaves before Christmas. There haven’t been any major reports of larval damage as this is written. Hopefully crops are big enough that they can compensate for any damage.

Matt’s agronomy tips for February

1. Tidy up weeds in wheat crops

The main topic of conversation with growers and agronomists is around options for post-emergence herbicides, and tidying up both grass and broadleaved weeds.

Where difficult grassweeds are not an issue, plenty of people are thinking about using Othello (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + diflufenican) as a tidy up for annual meadowgrass and broadleaved weeds, and thinking about the optimum timing. Ideally you would be applying it in February if you can travel to ease the workload for the spring, but you’re also wanting to wait for it be slightly warmer to improve uptake.

If you do have difficult grassweeds, such as black-grass, bromes and Ryegrass then the options change to Pacifica Plus (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + amidosulfuron), Monolith (mesosulfuron + propoxycarbazone)

Pacifica Plus is where you want the added broadleaved weed control on top of grassweeds, while Monolith might be more suited where you were able to apply a residual in the autumn and taken care of broadleaved weeds and you’re just looking for black-grass or brome control, for example.

 

2. Prepare ground for spring cropping

Some growers will have cover crops to destroy before establishing spring crops. It is difficult to be too specific with advice about when to use Roundup (glyphosate) as it will depend on the constituents of the cover crop, what crop is following, etc.

It’s worth considering the impact on the cover on carrying over pests and diseases into the following crop, where early destruction is useful. But equally the cover could be useful for helping suck up moisture and improving drainage.

For whatever biomass you have growing above ground, you have double below ground and that opening up the soil by the roots and exudates, it should make that ground more workable and easier to travel.

It is important to plan ahead, as typically you will want to treat 4-6 weeks ahead of planting the next cash crop, particularly if there is a lot of biomass to control. All plants, including cereals, become harder to control as they enter the stem extension phase of growth.

Dose needs to be matched to the most challenging species in the cover crop mix, and concentrate on good application quality to ensure a good level of kill throughout the canopy.

In some situations, a follow-up treatment as a post-plant / pre-emergence application in mixture with residual chemistry can help control lower growing species in the base of the canopy that cannot be easily targeted with the initial spray.

Roundup is proven to work most effectively in the cooler, more challenging conditions of the early spring. If you’re working against time, the investment in that type of product is worth considering.

Using a Roundup branded formulation will help with its superior formulation. Bayer only use potassium or ammonium salts – these smaller molecules allow more space for surfactants in the formulation and are key to driving superior efficacy, as well as ensuring improved spray characteristics, effective spreading and efficient penetration.

 

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Oil Radish Untreated 1                                                 1080g/ha Roundup Formulated Glyphosate 1

3. Watch out for light leaf spot in oilseed rape

While crop looked clean before Christmas from light leaf spot, 71% of the Spotcheck samples were infected, despite having no visual symptoms in the field. So it shows that there is a latent disease there waiting for the right conditions.

The cold weather in January will have helped inhibit any disease, but as crops start to grow again we might see a rise in visual light leaf spot symptoms. That might mean growers need to consider an early spray of something like Proline (prothioconazole) to deal with it, rather than waiting until flowering.

 

4. New application method for Velum Prime

While the early potato crops in the far south west tend not to require a nematicide for potato cyst nematode control due to the short growing season (although there are some hotspots), the loss of both Vydate (oxamyl), assuming no emergency authorisation is granted, and Mocap (ethoprophos) reduces options for other soil born pest control for main crop potato growers in the SW.

One alternative will be Velum Prime (fluopyram), which now has broadcast and incorporate as an application method alongside in-furrow application. The former can be applied with a horizontal boom sprayer.  We now have a comprehensive set of data to support full rate Velum + full rate Nemathorin for improved PCN population management, above the granule used alone or at ½ rate with Velum. The best time to apply is onto flat beds following primary cultivation or ridged beds, and then needs to be incorporated to a minimum depth of 10-20cm with the bed-tiller, prior to planting.