As we move rapidly towards the end of October it’s time to get our winter cereals in on high black-grass risk ground.
The rain has been a godsend in giving us just the flush of weed growth we have been waiting for. It is really sobering to see how much would have come through with our crops had we not held-off drilling.
With all the moisture we have had recently, our main concern now is getting the crops in at all. Once again, we must have both patience and faith.
Winter barley needs to be drilled by November. But we know we can get really good crops of wheat from sowing until the end of the year. Providing, that is, we are not tempted to maul them in. We have more than enough time in hand to wait for decent conditions.
To get our late-drilled wheat off to the flying start, we have found specialist seed dressings extremely valuable in supporting the best establishment and early root growth.
Fresh available phosphate in the seedbed is another thing experience has taught us to prioritise – even where soil indices are acceptable.
We will also be nurturing most crops with a root-boosting treatment, like Quark (N + zinc + manganese) early post emergence; in some cases combining this with our first BYDV spray.
Later drillings need the most timely insecticide as much as earlier ones these days; now we no longer have Deter.
The T-Sum based Agrii BYDV Alert App is proving invaluable here.
The nurturing we are giving later-drilled crops will help them cope with the robust herbicide programmes necessary to deal with difficult grass-weeds too.
With the demise of flurtamone, prosulfocarb is our weapon of choice in dealing with the particular problem of rye-grass. If shortages prevent us getting enough of this, we will be utilising picolinafen with our flufenacet-based programmes.
Standard in most of our programmes will be the adjuvant, Backrow we have found so useful in safening as well as enhancing the activity of these herbicides. And we will be acutely conscious of the 30-metre DRT buffer zones required for many residuals these days.
If the weather doesn’t allow us to get the seedbed quality we need, of course, we will be leaving things well alone until the spring. This will mean even more spring cropping than we have already planned.
Limited our options may be, but access to contracts like Explorer barley for Budweiser, naked oats, and Tiffany beans for Waitrose meat suppliers will ensure the best marketability.
Oilseed rape continues to be hard work. Where we have reasonable crops we have been using T-Sum calculations to predict flea beetle larval hatch, trying to target their emergence from the soil with the most timely insecticide spray before they burrow into the plants.
In addition to the phosphate they had with their seedbed nitrogen, we will be supporting root development as much as we can, including foliar magnesium and boron with the autumn fungicide.
We know how valuable these micro-nutrients can be here, as well as the strong correlation there is between early root development, GAI in the spring and final yield.
However, where they were really ravaged by adult beetles we have written-off several crops with plenty of good-sized plants; the larval pressure they will come under will be far too great to justify spending any more on them.
Crops that have missed the clethodim cut-off date will be getting carbetamide, being careful with fungicide tank mixing, as well as propyzamide to keep on top of black-grass.
Although we may need it earlier in some cases to hold weed growth back ahead of propyzamide when it gets cold enough, we generally get the best results from mixed applications.
With plenty of slugs about, metaldehyde stewardship is also at the forefront of our minds. After setting traps, wherever pelleting is necessary we are using ferric phosphate for at least 10m round every field.
Speaking of stewardship, we are being very careful to comply with the latest soil and water legislation this season, ensuring we have risk maps for every field.