Grass and cereal crops have grown rapidly over the last few weeks but we have only had 30mm rain since the end of April. The ground is very dry and even the heavier clay land has cracks all over it.
First cut silage fields produced huge bulks of grass but it will all be required after such a late, cold spring emptied our silage pits and used most of the hay we had in stock from the last two years. Plus, unless we get rain the second cut could be very poor.
Wheat has grown very fast through its stages and T2 spray was just applied as the heads were emerging. This consisted of a tank mix of Corbel (fenpripimorph) 0.3 litres/hectare, Epsotop (magnesium suphate) 5kg/ha, Priaxor (fluxapyroxad + pyraclostrobin) 0.8 litres/ha, Alto Elite (chlorothalonil + cyproconazole) 0.25 litres/ha and Velocity (adjuvant) 0.25 litres/ha.
All is looking well apart from two fields with different varieties which have plants throughout the fields with little green colour left on the flag leaf. No-one can come up with answer to what has happened to these plants but one theory is it might have been caused by liquid fertiliser running down the stem of the plant, burning the flag leaf before it had emerged.
This theory does seem practical but in all the years we have used liquids, I have never seen this happen and it is just odd plants in both fields which are effected; I do wonder if it was sprayed too soon with fungicide after the fertiliser.
The new variety of spring barley Fairing doesn’t look the same rich green colour compared to the other spring barley varieties, but despite this I have still decided to apply a third rate growth regulator to fields which have high fertility (i.e. nearest the piggery). Laureate spring barley looks very well and will be exciting to see how it yields compared to Concerto.
Hopefully Laureate will perform in the malting and distilling processes and produce good spirit yields, thus allowing us to grow another low nitrogen variety rather than all Concerto. Poor cereal prices have encouraged me to look further at all our growing costs.
For as long as I can remember we have sprayed problem fields for wild oats routinely year after year, but this year our agronomist has struggled to find any plants in some of these problem fields, so I have made the decision not to apply chemical to these fields in order to save £10-£12 per acre. But if wild oats appear later then we will hand rogue these fields and the roguing squad will include our friendly agronomist.
Another area of cost saving will be to only spray some fields of spring barley, instead of a blanket protection, with a preventative fungicide for mildew and rhynchosporium as the new varieties we are growing have better disease resistance than some of the older ones. I will be monitoring these fields to see if we can see any differences.
Grassland weeds continue to be a problem in our grass leys and replacement ewe hoggs for our upland unit have once again been kept at home to keep a check on the ragwort and docks. Having them on the grazing grass at home has worked extremely well the last number of years and done away with the need to spray for ragwort, it was unbelievable to see them being moved onto a new grazing field and going round the edges of the field nibbling the large dock leaves.