Favourable autumn drilling conditions and a mild winter to date has meant that winter wheat crops across the length and breadth of the UK are forward.
In the West crops have continued to grow almost all the way through winter, fuelled by the mild weather and high levels of residual nitrogen in the soil from previous crops, according to Robin Rose, agronomy manager, BASF.
He says: “Because of the drought last year a lot of that fertiliser was not taken up, so this is available to the wheat and it is very green. It is much more proud, and the leaf area is much greener than what we had this time last year. Growth stage wise it is not into stem extension yet but its well tillered, anywhere from GS 23 to 27.”
In the South, early crops, drilled in September and the first part of October are ‘storming ahead‘ at GS23. The later drilled crops, from mid October onwards are not as advanced but still look well.
In Scotland, Scott Milne, BASF, painted a similar picture. “What a difference a year makes! This year winter wheat crops are corner to corner, green and well tillered.”
Disease wise, Septoria and mildew are the main concerns, according to Mr Rose.
“Here in the west, there are significantly higher levels of Septoria and mildew disease in crops, compared to this time last year. We have had a few sharp frosts but they have not affected the mildew.”
The T0 spray, applied as leaf four emerges, should provide a strong foundation to Septoria control programme, according to BASF, protecting new growth and clearing up disease in the bottom of the crop. If there is adverse weather at T1 timing then the T0 buys a little bit of insurance.
“I base the T0 around chlorothalonil, at 1 l/hectare which acts as an anti-sporulant against Septoria, slowing down the spread to new growth. This reduces the pressure on the SDHIs that you are coming on with at T1.“
Mr Milne says as many crops are forward and well tillered, the T0 fungicide timing fits well with the plant growth regulator application in winter wheat.
“Canopy (prohexadione-calcium + mepiquat chloride) is an excellent choice from GS30 onwards, when growing conditions can be variable, as it is active from just 5oC. It is made up of two components; the prohexadione-calcium gets to work straight away whereas the mepiquat chloride needs slightly warmer temperatures and so having two different actives can lead to persistence.”
In oilseed rape Mr Rose urges careful monitoring for Light Leaf Spot (LLS). “I have just started to see early signs of LLS coming back into the crop.There is also some phoma in the crop which is not going to be an issue as it is really just on the old dying leaves.”
Pests of a different variety are currently troubling Scottish growers, says Mr Milne. “Recent attacks by pigeons have caused crops to go back quite dramatically. However, I am not concerned, they will recover.”