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Crop Advice & Expertise

Four agronomy tasks to consider as well as combining this August in Scotland

As harvest in Scotland continues, Craig Simpson looks at four other tasks for growers in August

Craig’s agronomy tips for August

1. Make use of early clearance of winter barley to establish oilseed rape

Winter barley harvest seems to have progressed well in the last weeks of July in Scotland and on many farms has perhaps been harvested slightly earlier than normal. This gives the opportunity to get oilseed rape planted in the first half of August – fortunately we’re almost never short of moisture in seedbeds. August establishment is pretty important for oilseed rape in Scotland.

Hybrid, including Dekalb, varieties are popular in Scotland because they have that rapid autumn vigour which gets them up and away from slugs and cabbage stem flea beetle attack – although it’s not so much of a problem in Scotland as further south.

Variety selection is important. DK Exstar has rapid autumn vigour but is not super rapid in the spring. Last season some of the early spring developing varieties were hit by frosts so while further south where cabbage stem flea beetle larvae can be an issue and fast development in the spring is important, in the north that’s less desirable.

DK Exstar is high yielding and has excellent light leaf spot resistance, and is also part of the Dekalb Establishment Scheme for 2021 along with DK Excited, DK Extremus and DK Imprint CL, which gives a £100/bag credit back if establishment fails on blocks of 6ha or more.


2. Consider creating a stale seedbed if time

Typically there is a quick turnaround between harvesting and autumn drilling especially after harvesting winter wheat and spring barley, but if time allows and especially where sterile brome is a threat it is worth considering.

Tickling the surface to cover sterile brome seed encourages it germinate so it can then be sprayed off prior to drilling with Roundup (glyphosate).


3. Use Roundup to clean up weeds and even ripeness in standing cereals

Pre-harvest Roundup is a key tool for many to encourage ripening in some big, later maturing crops to give time to get them harvested and establish the next autumn crop.

Rate will depend on weed populations – for annual grasses 540-720g/ha will probably suffice, whereas if you have perennial broadleaved weeds such as creeping thistle a higher dose is likely to be required. But check individual product labels as it can differ depending on product.

Don’t go too early – moisture content should be below 30% in wheat crops and adhere to the seven-day harvest intervals. Seed crops shouldn’t be treated.


4.  Watch out for tuber blight

With more unsettled weather forecast for the end of July and into August blight pressure is likely to have increased, with AHDB’s Blight Spy a useful tool to see the latest risk.

As we come towards the end of the programme tuber blight becomes more important. Only a couple of products have activity against this form, one of which is Infinito (fluopicolide + propamocarb), which sits well in the later part of programmes.

With more seed crops in Scotland, rogued potatoes can be a source of blight for neighbouring crops, so just general good crop hygiene and on machinery is important too.


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