Insufficient rooting is likely to put late-drilled spring cereals under stress, according to agronomy business Agrovista, which believes foliar feeding will be necessary where soils conditions are poor.
Although most spring cereals are now planted, many have only been drilled in the last two to three weeks.
With soil conditions challenging, these crops have struggled to develop an adequate rooting system, so there is a danger plants will not receive enough nutrients from soil to support early growth.
Chris Martin, Agrovista technical manager, says: “This is particularly problematic in heavy soil types where water has failed to drain away beneath the soil surface.
“Although seedbeds look fine on the surface, a couple of inches down they are puddled, wet and have poor structure.
“Seedbeds have effectively capped this wet, deep layer, so it is not going to dry out in a hurry.
“This is a pretty harsh environment for young roots. Crops are at risk of significant stress during the rapid growth likely to be associated with this warmer spell of weather. I predict we will see May yellows soon.”
Foliar feeding late-drilled crops will help plants establish, says Mr Martin.
“Roots are going to be stunted and slow growing and will not be able to deliver sufficient nutrients from soil. We will need to feed leaves, rather than roots, to help these young plants.”
Sulphur, magnesium, manganese and potassium are among nutrients crops may be short of this spring. However, advice is only to treat crops in response to tissue and soil analysis, as every field could differ.
Since phosphate is a key driver of root development, Frontier agronomist Andrew Roy believes applying foliar phosphite will be key in encouraging nutrient uptake.
He says: “Phosphates can be helpful in improving early root growth of spring cereals and this could fit in well with PGR, barley yellow dwarf virus and manganese applications.”
Additionally, growers should be focused on recovering any known trace element deficiencies, such as copper, zinc and manganese, as they have an important role in crop establishment, he says.
Although foliar feeding is likely to provide a direct source of nutrients to plants, Mr Roy advises growers to ensure there is sufficient leaf above soil surface to absorb any foliar application, as some crops have just recently germinated.