Some very valuable rain fell this week after the prolonged cold and dry spell which has held our crops back here in the North East. The rain is well timed for all winter crops and will hopefully set up many of the spring drillings too.
The cool weather over the last month has exposed winter cereals to ongoing stress, which has made for some very tricky management decisions in terms of spray applications.
With the worst of this hopefully behind us, crops are now starting to respond to moisture and warmth.
The significant rainfall has also brought septoria management to the fore. The disease has been slow to move so far due to a long latent phase associated with cold weather, but this will change rapidly once temperatures rise.
In most cases, early fungicides have been well timed to contain septoria but, as we head towards flag leaf, the disease will be our primary concern.
Most, if not all, will receive a SDHI/triazole combination with the addition of chlorothalonil (CTL) on higher-risk septoria sites. A strobilurin will be added where yellow rust risk is high.
Yellow rust has affected most varieties to some extent – depending on location – but so far the cold weather has aided its control. I’ve been working hard this spring to monitor trace element demand in cereals and to this end we’ve picked up a lot of copper and zinc deficiency early on.
The next one on our hit list is boron, which is regularly reported at low levels in tissue samples across the region.
We have applied it to some fields at T1 and will try a few targeted fields at T2 to see what response we get.
Late season ethephon-based PGRs are also being considered, in view of the many large canopies with high plant numbers.
Winter barley crops are generally looking well across the region, especially where nitrogen was applied early, although I think we could see damage from late frost.
As is often the case during stressful periods, the hybrids seem to weather the storm better and look to have greater yield potential at the moment.
We are in the process of planning our T2 fungicides; targeting the awn and flag leaf. Ramularia is a real consideration now after the recent rain and we’ve already added CTL where ethephon was used.
Our T2 will be a combination of prothioconazole + strob +/- SDHI and all will contain CTL. How we will manage ramularia next year without CTL is an ongoing focus for our trials team and technical experts.
In stark contrast to the experience of our southern colleagues, our northern OSR crop is still looking quite good on the whole.
With large canopies well into flower, recent rain and wind did cause us some issues with lodging and, although not good to see, this did help to confirm that my greater use of specific PGRs (such as canopy) was necessary this season.
With a long flowering period and rain from mid-flower onwards, some crops received a second sclerotinia spray where the risk was considered high.
Early pod set was poor due to frost damage but now, with rain and some bright weather, I still think the crop has good potential.
Spring bean crops were beginning to suffer from dry conditions but recent rain should give them a boost. So far, I have managed to keep downy mildew out by applying phosphate products.
However, around Easter pea and bean weevil migrated into the crop in high numbers.
Winter beans have also benefited from recent rain and the priority at the moment is keeping chocolate spot at bay.
Some later sown crops were also hit by pea and bean weevil, something we do not normally see as an issue. Here’s hoping the weather stays in our favour and crops can grow away from any substantial damage.