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Talking Agronomy with Vicki Brooks: An encouraging all round start

Helped by a decent amount of seedbed moisture and some welcome early October warmth, our oilseed rape has got off to a better start than last year.
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an encouraging all round start for OSR #talkingagronomy #arable

The bulk has profited from good sowing conditions in August and the first few days of September to reach a healthy six true leaves by mid-October.

Further behind and now in need of some decent rain are the few later sowings which went in after a catchy second wheat harvest. They certainly will not be needing any autumn growth regulation.

We have a much higher acreage of herbicide-resistant Clearfield crops this time around. Mainly because last season they delivered yields of 3.5-3.75 tonnes/hectare from ground where the charlock and runch always used to prevent us getting much more than 2.5-3t/ha.

Not having to use a herbicide until we know what weeds we have and where has been a big advantage in prioritising the best-targeted early crop investment. As has the degree of black-grass holding value we have seen from Cleranda (imazamox + metazachlor) alongside its primary cruciferous and other broad-leaved weed activity.


See also: Weed screen explores options for grass-weed control

With the cool autumn delaying charlock and runch development, the herbicide is just going onto these crops. It will only be their second spray of the season – following the single flea beetle insecticide we gave all our rape in September a dose of phosphite to boost rooting and crop health.

We are keeping a close eye on phoma but disease development is still well below thresholds. So, on resistant varieties, at least, it looks like we will only need a single autumn fungicide, targeting both light leaf spot and phoma in mid-November.


Our more forward crops will be getting a combination of prochloraz and tebuconazole plus metconazole for growth regulation. Where the priority is on disease control alone we will be using prothioconazole with tebuconazole, or a mixture of penthiopyrad and picoxystrobin to avoid over-reliance on prothioconazole ahead of our main spring light leaf spot spray.


Nice seedbeds

Nice seedbeds

Cool it may have been, but it is nowhere near cold enough for propyzamide yet, especially as Cleranda on our Clearfield crops and clethodim wherever else we have needed early black-grass control means we can hold off until conditions are just right.

This autumn has been pretty much what we needed for our wheats too. In particular, it has allowed us to drill most into really nice seedbeds in the past two weeks as part of our integrated black-grass management strategy.

We have put paid to a lot of October-germinating black-grass with a combination of pre-planting and pre-em glyphosate. And varieties chosen for their competitiveness in Stow Longa research and sown at the right seed rates with good pre-em activity into decent conditions is leading to rapid, even and weed-free establishment.

By early November we should have driven home this advantage with solid peri-em applications to all our red-coded black-grass fields for valuable early contact activity and extended residuality.

We will be combining this with an insecticide spray to combat any aphid activity wherever seed hasn’t been Deter (clothianidin)-dressed. Thankfully, serious BYDV issues on the Essex coast last year have meant far wider seed treatment this season. To such an extent an autumn insecticide may well prove unnecessary for many.

Potatoes and sugar beet have been coming off well this month, with little in the way of soil horrors. This means we should be able to follow both with a good winter wheat rather than having to fall back on spring sowing. Another useful early feather in this season’s cap.

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