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Talking Agronomy with Sarah Symes: Struggling to find spray days


This autumn has seen a struggle to find spray days; if it hasn’t been too wet to travel then high winds have stopped play.

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This has left a few late-drilled cereal crops not receiving a pre-/post-emergence residual spray but there is still time, although the ground in most places has been left too wet to travel.


The combination of October-sown crops with glyphosate pre-drilling has resulted in lower black-grass populations to be dealt with this autumn.


The early residual application, along with a top-up residual application three to four weeks later to already unhealthy looking black-grass plants, will mean we will be in a far better position going into the spring, and be less reliant on Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) working well.


Late September-grown wheat in bad black-grass situations has proved to be more of a challenge – the warm weather has allowed black-grass to get away and in some cases a Liberator (flufenacet + DFF) + Atlantis application has been made.


Warm temperatures causing problems

The warm October temperatures have also allowed for good uptake of Spitfire (florasulam + fluoroxypyr) on volunteer beans.


Mildew has been very apparent in all susceptible crops, but the few frosts we have had has slowed the spread.


Given the time of year we will not be making any recommendations, but will simply wait and see what winter brings, and keep an eye out for it as we plan our T0s next March.


Slugs have proved to be a problem yet again this year, especially with the rise in no-tillage systems. It has been mainly patches rather than whole fields and hopefully, if we get the predicted coldest winter since the start of time, then there will not be too much of a problem through the winter.


See also: Slug control with zero metaldehyde


We have had to use a mixture of metaldehyde and ferric phosphate to keep within the metaldehyde stewardship guidelines. Farms where metaldehyde is a particular problem in their catchment have been using ferric phosphate-based pellets to protect the watercourses from contamination.


Late-sown OSR crops, which were at one time looking precarious, are starting to catch up with the earlier-sown crops. We have seen bursts of phoma, which has warranted two sprays this autumn, especially on the smaller crops which are more prone to the risk of stem canker developing.


In the first week of December we finally saw soil temperatures drop low enough for Kerb (propyzamide) and Astrokerb (aminopyralid + propyzamide) applications, this was in some cases tank mixed with Proline (prothioconazole) or Refinzar (penthiopyrad + picoxystobin) for top up on phoma protection/eradication and add light leaf spot protection.


We have started to make bifenox recommendations in the hope charlock will be controlled.


January 15 marks the end of the closed period for spreading manufactured nitrogen on both grass and tillage land so we are sorting out fertiliser and manure management plans for the coming spring.


High yields this year have provoked a debate on extra nitrogen usage in milling wheats. Group 1s will need to have at least 300kg N/hectare in order to maintain yields of nine-10 tonnes/ha and achieve protein level of 13%, but obviously in such years as the one we have just had, high yields of 11-12t can be achieved but the protein levels are diluted.


With the increase in spring-sown crops due to black-grass issues, ecological focus area rules or wanting to spread workload, many will be spraying off stale seedbeds.


See also: Managing spring crops to reduce weed burden


This time of year I expect glyphosate to take at least 10-14 days to work where growth is slow, maintain rates of three-four litres/ha. Spring rotations will also be finalised and seed starting to be ordered.


We will be hosting a number of NRoSO training days throughout January and February in the South, so if you would like to book a place please get in touch.



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