Looking at crops in late April, concerns were starting to surface over lack of moisture in the Central and Eastern regions.
Spring crops were emerging, having fortunately, for the most part, found moisture in the seedbed but, as time progressed, the lack of rain and indeed any forecast in the future was really starting to concern growers.
On heavier soils, winter crops continued to look well and were racing through growth stages, with hybrid barleys poking their flag leaves out by the end of April.
Winter wheats also seemed to be moving quickly and winter barley T1 sprays were rapidly followed with winter wheat leaf 3 applications in mostly protectant situations.
The beginning of May saw these applications being finished off and the welcome arrival of some much-needed rain.
With winter cereals progressing quickly through growth stages, it is important PGR applications are carefully considered.
Lodging risk is highly dependent on a variety of factors, but particular attention should be given to the variety and recommended list lodging score.
In the current Recommended List, of the 35 winter wheat varieties listed, 31 have a lodging risk of 7 or below.
Other factors contributing to lodging risk include drilling date, tiller numbers and weather conditions.
This season, with autumn conditions so good for establishment, many crops will have a higher than usual lodging risk due to high tiller numbers.
While the dry early spring conditions may have limited some of the lodging risk, it is worth remembering crops have achieved only half their final height at GS39, so if conditions are favourable for growth post flag leaf, we could see some rapid stem extension, even in shorter crops.
The application of PGRs shortens the stem and can increase varietal lodging scores from 0.5 to 3.
At GS37-39, actives such as prohexadione, mepiquat and 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid can be used to great effect and these can result in cereals being shortened in height by 8-15cm. Even if chlormequat has been used earlier in the programme, it is important to note its application at early stem extension alone is unlikely to reduce the crop height enough where lodging risks are high.
It is the use of PGRs in sequence which increase efficacy in general and the mixing of active ingredients.
So to achieve the best PGR approach this year estimate your lodging risk carefully, taking into account the variety’s Recommended List score, soil residual N, canopy size, tiller number, weather conditions, past PGR applications and potential yield to help guide your PGR approach at T2.
While walking sugar beet in late April, I was alarmed find flea beetle grazing on the newly emerged leaves.
While little damage was subsequently found, it did alarm me to think this devastating pest of oilseed rape could become a problem in another crop as we lose the option of control through neonicotinoid seed treatments.
However, in other news the welcome announcement was also received in April that Biscaya (thiacloprid) had been granted emergency authorisation in sugar beet.
Two applications of the product can be made, in addition to the one application of Teppeki (flonicamid) for the control of green wingless aphids, in particular Myzus Persicae, to attempt to control the transmission of virus yellows.
Applications to control aphids should not be made until the threshold of one green wingless aphid per four plants (up until the 12-leaf stage) is reached.
The application of a repeat treatment would again only be warranted if this threshold is exceeded again.
The British Beet Research Organisation is monitoring winged aphids through the use of yellow water traps which will help alert growers to pest pressure and the potential building of subsequent green wingless aphid numbers. Despite the dry conditions experienced at sugar beet drilling, most beet did seem to find moisture and early establishment has been good.
It is heartening to see sugar beet at leaf 2-4 at this time when last year we were still waiting for crop emergence in many areas due to the late, wet start. Hopefully beet vigour will continue and weed control will be kept in hand as the crop meets in the rows over the next few weeks.