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Crop Advice & Expertise

6 final agronomy jobs to consider in crops in the North this June and July

James Howat takes a look at crop development and final jobs to do before harvest in combinable crops this June and July in the North.

Crop Progress

Plenty of rain in May has washed in the fertiliser, closed all the cracks in the soil, and generally allowed crops to fluff out their feathers and look like cracking crops of wheat and barley.

But we have gone from one extreme to the other with the rain and as we came to the end of May it was very wet. 


James’ agronomy tips for June and July

1. Finish off T2 flag leaf sprays in wheat

Some early drilled wheat crops will have had flag leaf sprays in last week of May, weather permitting, but many more are likely to end up being in June.

Disease pressure, so far, has been low. It’s been cold and that has helped prevent it cycling quickly and moving up the canopy. All disease at the end of May was at the base of the plant on leaves five and six, and any active yellow rust has been dried up by T1 sprays.

It is set to warm up as we go into June, so that’s when we will see if there is an explosion of Septoria. The biggest question is whether the active Septoria lesions on those lower leaves can be rain-splashed directly from leaf five to leaf 2? I don’t think it will be, although you might see some leaf infections on leaf four and leaf three.

That should mean flag leaf sprays are being applied in a protective situation, and continuing to protect those upper couple of leaves that drive yields is key.

I’m advising growers to use a decent rate of an SDHI-containing fungicide. If the Septoria resistance rating of the variety is a six or above, I’d suggest 1.0-1.2 L/ha of Ascra (bixafen + fluopyram + prothioconazole) – the higher dose will give extra persistency and longevity of protection.

On anything less than a six, then use 1.2-1.5 L/ha of Ascra, and make sure you get good coverage of the flag leaf and leaf two to cover any potential outbreaks of Septoria.


2. Maintain protection for as long as possible through to harvest

The gap between T2 and T3 might be even shorter this season, as crops are likely to race through growth stages when it does warm up.

But the T3 is important to both protect against Fusarium and Microdochium, as well as continue to protection for as long as possible through to harvest. The best timing for the former is early to mid-flowering, while it is a long time from a T2 at the beginning of June through to harvest which can be 10-12 weeks later.

For Fusarium control 0.55 L/ha of Proline is a good base option. If you haven’t used two SDHI-containing fungicides earlier in the programme Aviator (bixafen + prothioconazole) could be an option, although I suspect most will have used SDHIs at both T1 and T2 in this region.


3. Protect good looking spring barley crops

Spring barley crops vary depending on drilling date, but with the moisture crops generally are looking good and have decent potential.

Disease will also have been favoured by the weather, especially Rhynchosporium and net blotch, which suggests a two-spray programme could be justified this season.

The first will likely be applied early in June, if not May, at GS30, with the follow up application at awns emerging. Silta (bixafen + prothioconazole) or Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole) are good options at either timing.

Generally I would look to apply a slightly higher dose at the second timing as that’s the one which is more important for protecting yield in spring barley.

If Ramularia is a concern at T2, then you have the option of adding in folpet to potentially add a little more protection.


4. Plan potato from blight

Potatoes have been very slow to emerge, but as weather warms growth will pick up.

Start planning for blight spray programmes which will likely start this month. While there are a decent range of options for foliar blight, there are fewer for tuber blight at the end of the season, so it’s worth considering what you might use for tuber blight control and working backwards to make sure you have enough applications left.

Infinito (fluopicolide + propamocarb) is one such product – it’s good against both tuber and foliar blight so can fit anywhere in the programme, but you have a maximum of four applications.

If you’re growing varieties that are susceptible to early blight (Alternaria) then our new option Caligula (fluopyram + prothioconazole) is likely to be of interest, with other options having been lost. In Euroblight trials it has set a new standard of control. Use rate is 0.5 L/ha, with a maximum total dose of 1.5 L/ha, but you can’t use more than two consecutive applications.  It doesn’t give any control of late blight though, so you need to tank mix in a late blight fungicide if both are an issue.


5. Time desiccation correctly in oilseed rape

Oilseed rape flowering has been extremely prolonged this season, so in early June there could still be a justification for applying a second flowering spray if the first one has run out of steam for Sclerotinia and Alternaria protection, and flowering is continuing.

Depending on how much Aviator has been applied in the programme, it can be an option at 0.5 L/ha.

When crops are approaching harvest attention will turn to desiccation with Roundup (glyphosate). The key is not to go too early as this can both curtail yield and redcue oil content as shown by red seed at harvest.

Assess timing by taking a representative sample of around 20 pods, and look for the majority of the seeds to have turned brown in a majority of the pods. It’s worth doing this in a couple of areas in the field to check that the timing has been reached.


6. Look out for the return of our Cawood Field Day

At long last it is looking like we are able to have visitors back to our Field Days demonstration at Stockbridge Technology Centre, Cawood on 16 and 17 June.

Open from 10am – 4pm, come for a look around and chat about wheat and barley varieties, fungicide trials, sugar beet projects and weed control in our ever-popular weed screen. Food and refreshments will be available of course.

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