For this month’s crop walk and talk we joined Agrovista agronomist, Luke Hardy for an insight into current crop challenges in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Abby Kellett reports.
Having received only around 22mm (0.9inches) of rainfall in October, some crops in Tamworth were looking thirsty according to Mr Hardy. However this has had an advantage in terms of keeping pests at bay.
He said: “We did have problems with slugs earlier on in September as it was quite wet in this part of the world, but we have had a very dry October and an exceptionally dry November and so slug pressure has now eased.
“Most crops have received one slug pellet application and I expect this will be sufficient.”
Where stubble had been ploughed in order to control grass-weeds, seedbeds were particularly dry.
“There has been more moisture loss where the plough has previously been used. Crops established in these conditions really could do with some rain.”
Wheat had got away well and had reached GS23 in most instances.
“This crop of KWS Siskin was drilled on September 25 at 225 seeds per sq.m. The crop now has three tillers in total meaning it’s at GS23, so I would class this crop as well established,” said Mr Hardy
Because of high aphid pressure due to mild conditions, he advised monitoring numbers over the coming weeks.
“This crop was treated with Deter seed treatment and at the seed rate that this farmer used, I would expect to have about eight weeks protection from barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV),” he said.
Barley on the other hand, had not been Deter treated and had received a pyrethroid application timed at leaf two to protect against BYDV.
“I am not anticipating having to follow up with a further insecticide on either crop, but what I will do is monitor aphid numbers through November.
"However, I would consider applying a further insecticide on September drilled crops and where seed was not deter treated," said Mr Hardy.
See also: Hot weather increases risk of BYDV
Despite receiving a robust pre-emergence herbicide application of pendimethalin, flufenacet and diflufenican, some black-grass, ryegrass and sterile brome have continued to emerge.
This was partly explained by the dry autumn conditions which reduced the efficacy of pre-emergence products, according to Mr Hardy.
“We’ve got some black-grass that is at the three leaf stage and some ryegrass as well. I am going to recommend to this farmer that we treat this low population with a contact material this autumn.
“Currently Atlantis still works on this farm so we will be using this with some residual herbicide alongside it to hopefully get on top of the problem.”
Rebuilding P and K levels was identified as another important task this autumn.
“Because soils conditions are so dry at the moment, I have advised this farmer to apply all of his phosphate and potash recommendations. I suggest this should be a priority for growers in the coming days if it has not already been applied.”
There are concerns in some regions about big oilseed rape crop canopies; however, at this site, Mr Hardy was content with the size of the crop, which was drilled on August 25.
“OSR crops have established well here and they are actually not too far forward. There are a lot of forward crops of rape this year and we are considering using growth regulators to hold some back.”
Underground, root development was also satisfactory: “We have a nice, fibrous root system and a long tap root which is just what we want to see at this time of year,” said Mr Hardy.
In order to control problematic brassica weeds such as charlock and runch, a proportion of the OSR grown on farm is Clearfield variety DK Imperial, which allows use of a selective herbicide.
As well as a pre-emergence application of clomazone, the Clearfield OSR crops have received an application of Cleranda (imazamox+metazachlor) at six to eight true leaves, which has successfully controlled the target weeds without affecting the OSR plants.
While cabbage stem flea beetle has once again been a problem in parts of the South and East, it has not been a problem on this site, which Mr Hardy believes is down to rainfall early in the season.
He said: “This crop has only had one autumn pyrethroid insecticide for flea beetle. Because there was so much rainfall at drilling, the crop went into moisture and came out of the ground quickly so one treatment seemed to be enough.”
The conditions have meant meant disease pressure has been low but more recently disease has been noted in some crops.
“I am starting to see phoma move into these crops so now I am advising farmers to treat OSR with a fungicide for phoma and light leaf spot, together with some propyzamide as well for grass-weed control,” said Mr Hardy.