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Talking Agronomy with Sarah Symes: The light at the end of a productive month

We are looking out for orange wheat blossom midge on susceptible varieties
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There is a small light at the end of the tunnel on what has been an extremely busy and productive couple of months.

 

Crops have raced through the growth stages and while we have have struggled to keep up with the spraying between periods of wet weather, coupled with chemical supply issues, crops are in general looking good, considering the rain we had at the start of the year.

 

As I write, T2 applications are being sprayed on the more forward wheat crops, and recommendations being planned on the more backward crops. Some T1 applications were delayed due to the rain at the end of April and so septoria and some cases yellow rust has appeared on lower leaves.

 

Septoria has moved in quickly between applications particularly on susceptible varieties and can readily be found on any unprotected leaf area. This is often despite the best available treatments being used.

 

Therefore we are trying to reduce the length of time between treatments and keeping doses up. Low levels of mildew have also been noted due to the humid conditions, so where required a mildew protectant has been included in T2 plans.

 

Broad-leaved weed and wild oat control has now all been dealt with as with growth regulation. This just leaves T3 applications to be applied from full ear emergence. Our farmers grow a high proportion of Group 1, 2 and 3 wheats for quality markets so mycotoxins risks must be reduced.

Fusarium diseases

Control of the fusarium diseases requires protection to be applied before infection as there is very little curative activity from any product. The key to getting the maximum control possible is to apply before any rain during the flowering period and to apply sufficient fusarium-active triazoles. Also crops following maize will be at higher risk to fusarium infections.

 

We are looking out for orange wheat blossom midge on susceptible varieties, although in recent years this pest has not been too much of a problem. Threshold for milling crops is one midge per six ears, or one midge per three for feed crops, if threshold is met, treatment will be considered. Conversely, with the season we are having, it is likely the period between ear emergence and flowering will not be very long and therefore they won’t be a problem.

 

Winter barley is pretty much wrapped up for the year, T2 applications were applied at ‘paint brush stage’ and crops are looking extremely good with largely clean leaves, so fingers crossed for some respectable yields. As with winter barley, oilseed rape has had its second fungicide, large numbers of seed weevil were seen in some crops, but nothing in most of the crops so Mavrik (tau-fluvalinate) was included where needed.

 

Winter oats have received their first fungicide and broad-leaved weed control. Some crown rust and mildew have been seen in the lower part of the canopy, so T2 recommendations were made for three weeks after the first application, product dependent on disease seen.

 

Spring cereals have all gone into good seedbeds and have emerged well. Wild oat control has been used where required, along with broad-leaved weed control and a first fungicide. Some wireworm damage was seen in spring barley where grass has been in the rotation, leading to patchy emergence, other than rolling the seedbed and upping seed rates where pre-empting a problem, there is little which can be done.

 

Winter and spring bean crops are both looking strong. Fungicide applications have been made to winter beans and are being planned for spring beans. Notching on leaves caused by pea and bean weevil have also been widely seen, so in many instances an insecticide has also been applied. If wet weather is forecast this is likely to bring in downy mildew, chemical options are limited to products containing metalaxyl-M, however some trials have shown the use of phosphites to be beneficial in protectant situations.

 

Maize drilling started the end of April and so far crops are looking a lot less yellow than this time last year. Pre-emergence sprays are on and post-emergence herbicides are being decided upon, depending on weed spectrum. Fingers crossed for a dry month.

 

  • Sarah Symes is an independent agronomist working with the Hampshire Arable Systems partnership. Based in Hampshire, she advises clients growing cereals, oilseed rape and pulses
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