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Crop Advice & Expertise

4 agronomy pointers for August in East Anglia

As harvest continues, Sam Harvey looks ahead to preparations for next season and agronomy for root crops in East Anglia in August.

Sam’s agronomy tips for August

1. Identify grass-weed threats ahead of post-harvest cultivations

Accepting the pressure of keeping primary cultivations moving as land is cleared, consider what your primary objective is with post-harvest cultivations, especially when it comes to controlling pernicious grass-weeds.

Following the storms in July, for many moisture shouldn’t be an issue, at least in the first part of August, but if it is dry, that can have a bearing on the optimum timing of cultivations as can which species of grass-weed you have.

If there is plentiful moisture, then for black-grass and rye-grass prepare a stale seedbed to around 5cm as soon after harvest as possible to get a chit. Given the more protracted germination of rye-grass you may have variable success, but it is the right time to be doing it. If it’s dry you may well get more predation of seed return left on an uncultivated soil surface.

When it comes to brome species it is important to correctly identify in the previous crop which the dominant species is in the field. If it is the Anisantha species – sterile brome or great brome – again cultivate as soon as possible after harvest. But for the Bromus species (soft, rye and meadow brome) leave it uncultivated for a month to break dormancy before cultivating.

After oilseed rape be careful about cultivating if it is dry – to get a good flush and avoid causing a build-up of oilseed in the seedbank wait for moisture if possible. If there’s plentiful moisture you want to get it chitting.

Once there is a decent flush of grass-weeds in a stale seedbed, use a good formulation of Roundup (glyphosate) with good application practice to clear up and get a second flush. It’s easy to not give a high degree of attention to detail with these applications regarding forward speeds, pressures, droplet size, etc, but it is important to be diligent and maximise grass-weed control as well as from a resistance management perspective with good application technique for optimum glyphosate uptake – you’re looking for a relatively slow drying droplet, so not too fine.

 

2. Use Climate FieldView to make more informed better decisions by collecting and analysing harvest data in real-time

The obvious place to start with data is harvest and our digital platform Climate FieldView enables you to instantly monitor real-time harvest data. It allows you to analyse, review and compare different management practices you’ve instigated during the season across and within fields, whether it is fungicide programmes, cultivation practices, operation speeds, fertiliser regimes or variety performance. Whatever it is that you wish to review you can do it instantly to better inform decisions for the next crop – and do it while the combine is going up and down rather than waiting until a later date that may never come.

It’s easy to share your data in your account with whoever you choose, be it your agronomist, spray operator, etc., and setting up both the hardware and software is straightforward, even when you’re in the thick of harvest.

 

3. Take the opportunity to establish oilseed rape when conditions are good, but keep to your long term plan

Any decisions around oilseed rape should depend on how you have chosen to integrate the crop into your rotation based on the last few challenging seasons – extending the rotation with less oilseed rape in the rotation will be more sustainable over the long term.

Currently moisture is plentiful as we approach the end of July so there is likely to be opportunities to get good establishment while that continues.

In recent seasons, where weather has been relatively extreme, hybrid varieties do tend to have been more reliable, and with the Dekalb Establishment Scheme you have the added peace of mind of a £100/bag credit if any of DK Exstar, DK Excited, DK Extremus or DK Imprint CL in blocks of 6ha or more do fail to establish.

With the recent storms in East Anglia, the benefits of pod shatter resistance in all the DK hybrid range with the exception of the HOLL varieties is also worth considering.

 

4. Keep an eye on disease control in root crops

First applications of fungicides in sugar beet should be at onset of disease, usually rust or mildew and typically will happen towards the end of July. Mildew was being reported widely in July. After last year’s Cercospora issues in some crops, be vigilant for that, particularly if the weather is hot and humid. The disease can develop very quickly with a short latest period if conditions are optimum.

BBRO’s Cercospora early warning alert was showing some amber alerts at the time of writing for the last weekend of July so it will be essential to check crops for first symptoms. Timing is critical for Cercospora control, and fungicides must be on as soon as first symptoms are seen before the disease establishes. Escolta (cyproconazole + trifloxystrobin) remains the best all round product for control of beet diseases currently.

In potatoes, conditions through much of July have been high risk for late blight. Infinito (fluopicolide + propamocarb) is the product of choice which has activity at all parts of the Phytophthora infestans life cycle, tackles all currently known strains within the UK population and provides tuber blight cover.

Where you have early blight (Alternaria) susceptible varieties – Markies being the most common – you might need to tank mix in an early blight specific product, such as Caligula (prothioconazole + fluopyram), which is the strongest available product.

 

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