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Talking Agronomy with Ken McTaggart: 'Things have continued to be nicely uneventful for us'

It’s tempting fate, I know, but things have continued to be nicely uneventful for us here so far this season.

With no rain for the best part of a month, we were getting concerned for cereals on the lighter ground.

But then we had some very timely extra moisture from above, and, thankfully, not the torrential mid-June deluge so many received last week either.

As a result, most of our winter crops are looking very promising.

Robust

A few barleys – one notably tall hybrid, in particular – are leaning a bit. Even though they and our wheats have not come under the intense monsoon pressure of many further north, we are very glad we stuck with decently robust PGR programmes.

It is always tempting to cut back in a relatively dry spring, but just too risky for us – especially with seasons as variable as they have become.


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Disease

We are just completing our wheat T3s, many delayed by around a week by wet and windy weather, plus the clear priority given to blight spraying where potatoes are being grown.

This would be concerning in a high foliar disease season. Although we see T3 as much as a foliar top-up as an ear wash these days, the combination of early dryness and timely T0 to T2 spraying means the delay hasn’t been an issue.

As we get near to shutting the gate on our wheats, septoria is well under control and confined to the base of crops.

We did have an isolated yellow rust scare earlier on with a block of KWS Zyatt that had an extended T0 to T1 interval.

However, we nipped this in the bud, as well as giving ourselves the best possible protection against brown rust with the flag leaf spray.

Rain around flowering, our emphasis on quality wheats and maize in many rotations means we are acutely conscious of the fusarium risk, so we have mainly been using a solid prothioconazole/ tebuconazole co-formulation at T3 bolstered with extra tebuconazole to combat the brown rust which is our main foliar concern.

In most cases, this should be sufficient. Even so, knowing how damaging late brown rust infections can be and how susceptible many of today’s varieties are, we will be keeping a close eye out for any disease development in the six or more weeks still to go to harvest.

Weeds

If necessary, we will not shy away from a tebuconazole top-up for the likes of Crusoe.

While most of our cereals are looking clean weed-wise too, we will also keep a close eye
for the grass-weed patches which become obvious in July.

This is the time we can most accurately traffic light our fields and map problem areas for the best cultural and chemical control programmes.

The gate is securely closed on well-podded and generally very pleasing and even canopies of OSR. The hybrid varieties we prioritise for their superior ability to grow away from setbacks have come through with flying colours. Even the areas worst affected by flea beetle have recovered well and look like performing decently.

Green

 

With a strobilurin included in their mid-flowering spray, strong rooting and enough moisture in the ground – not to mention substantial hybrid stems from relatively low seed rates – most crops look like staying green for a good while yet. So we will be in no rush to go in with our pre-harvest glyphosate.

Our spring barleys – mostly RGT Planet and Propino – are nicely set and standing well, having had their final spray 10 days ago.

Our maize has reached six leaves and is beginning to motor, taking over from a successful early herbicide programme in combatting weeds.

And our potatoes are flying, with even late-planted crops now into tuber initiation.

Fingers crossed, we are looking forward to another good, all-round harvest.

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