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Talking Agronomy Sam Patchett: Taking advantage of good spray days


Most of our wheats had their T1s and our oilseed rape crops their sclerotinia sprays ahead of the May Day downpour and the stormy spell that followed it

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Sam Patchett
Sam Patchett

Thank heavens we took advantage of the good spraying conditions we had towards the end of April even though we were on the early side of ideal for timings.


Coupled with some hard frosts late in the month, the very dry April held wheat diseases back well. However, with enough septoria in the base of almost every crop and triazole sensitivity concerns, we made sure our crops had a mix of multi-site, triazole and SDHI chemistry at T1. Which is just as well with 30mm of rain recorded at our Brotherton iFarm weather station over the first week of May week certain to boost the spread of infections in warming weather.


With septoria control the priority, we should have most of our T2s on by the time you read this. SDHIs will again feature strongly in most cases to protect flag leaves. If we can get the timing as good as we have with the T1s, this will leave our wheats just where we want them to be going into flowering and grain fill.


The bulk of our OSR is looking every bit as well at the moment. A very low early sclerotinia forecast this season means the earlier varieties, in particular, are unlikely to need a second flowering spray. With mid-flowering only just upon us in most cases, however, we won’t be holding-off on any top-ups should flowering be extended and the unsettled weather continue.


The decent drop of rain we’ve just had has been very welcome for all our crops. The April drought meant we’ve seen more manganese issues than for a good while on our lighter land. Regardless of soil type, it has also been very obvious which crops received sufficient spring sulphur and which did not.


The much larger acreage of spring beans we have in the ground this year really needed a good drink to keep it moving ahead to flowering and the start of our chocolate spot spraying in early June.


As we move into June and the main round of summer events and open days our thoughts are turning to varieties for next season. Again this season, Dickens and old faithful Relay have been standing out for their solid dependability, with Revelation and Skyfall looking really good for the all-round disease resistance that has become so much more important in our variety choice.


Alongside these, we’re especially excited by RL-newcomer, KWS Lili. Together with Revelation and Skyfall, it has well-above Recommended List septoria resistance ratings on the Agrii Advisory List – developed from variety trials under commercial regimes and untreated disease monitoring plots across the country to complement the RL – on which we base our planning.


With grass-weeds a growing issue for us, we’re also looking for varieties with particularly high black-grass competitive ratings as we know these can make a huge difference to performance. And, while yield potential remains as important as ever in our decision-making, we’re keeping bushel weights very much in mind as well, least because we need the most saleable grain possible in the current market.


Cost-effective value will be our priority in OSR choice and DK ExPower, Incentive and Harper will be our benchmarks. We’ll be looking for combinations of light leaf spot and phoma resistance and DK Exentiel, just joining the Northern RL, will be a major contender in this respect. We’re also keeping a close eye on emerging, very high gross output DK Exalte, which has Agrii List resistance scores of 8 or more for both diseases.


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