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Talking Arable with Andrew Robinson: Spring is coming

TO fungicides have been decided and our plan this season is to give the barley a TO this time too
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As I sit and write this, the sun is at last shining and we have now gone 48 hours without any rainfall therefore spring must be here. As all our rape is drilled with the Vaderstad we will have to be a little more patient and let water filter through the ground before we are able to apply some liquid N25:14SO3 fertiliser.


KWS Glacier barley will be next to receive its nitrogen with a hefty 80kg of nitrogen and 18kg of sulphur to give it a kick start. The crop looks well and fairly thick so hopefully the nitrogen will help maintain those tillers which are so vital in producing that all important 1,000-plus ears per square metre, as, with most barley, higher ear numbers mean higher yield.


Gallant wheat will be the first wheat variety to receive some fertiliser in the form of N35:7SO3 as this requires its nitrogen early to help maintain tillers; and will then be followed on with the rest of the wheats.


T0 fungicides have been decided and our plan this season is to give the barley a T0 this time too in the form of 0.75 litres/ha of Kayak (cyprodinil), this will give us 225g of cyprodinil to control the small amount of both mildew and net blotch which is present, for relatively little cost.


Added to this mix will be some manganese, chlormequat and some Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl). This plant growth regulator will be used extensively over all the cereals again this year as, with our thick crops, preventing lodging is paramount and the added benefit of stem thickening allows more water and nutrients to be taken up as well as the increase in root area.


Wheat T0s are very robust this year with the Gallant, Leeds and Invicta receiving 1litre/ha of Firefly (fluoxastrobin+prothioconazole), 1litre/ha Bravo 500 (chlorothalonil) along with some Moddus, chlormequat and manganese. This rate of Firefly will give us 110g of prothiconazole and 45g of fluoxastrobin, which will not only reduce the eyespot issue we experience here at Toddington but also have a useful effect on septoria, mildew and more importantly rusts. Other blocks will have either a Tracker (boscalid+epoxiconazole) plus Cherokee (chlorothalonil+ cyproconazole+ propiconazole) mix or Cherokee plus PGR and manganese. Amazingly for this part of the world, GS30 was reached in the September-drilled Gallant on February 26.

Spring beans

If this dry weather continues we will move our ploughed ground destined for spring beans with a 10m set of spring tines hired from neighbouring estate behind the Quadtrac which has had the front weight block weighing some 1,550kg removed, this should help reduce the footprint slightly. The beans will then be sown with the Vaderstad using the vari rate at an average of 40 seeds/sq.m and thanks to the new system from Soyl, I am able to do my own maps here from the farm office.


MOP has been ordered for the season ahead at a thankfully large discount to last year’s TSP. A biennial application of the MOP is applied this year and then the same will apply to the TSP for next year, so each product is used in alternative years.


Soil temperatures have never dropped below the 5.4degC I recorded here on February 28, which is why the crops are at least two weeks ahead of a ‘normal’ year if there is such a thing.


Grain prices have risen on the back of Mr Putin flexing his muscles, so we will watch this space as there may just be a little more upward movement in these markets yet and with the dry weather in Brazil affecting the soyabean crop, Australia already reducing wheat output by 8% and canola by 14% it will possibly make the remaining tonnage left unsold a bit more interesting and will hopefully pull harvest 2014 prices up with it.


  • Andrew Robinson is farms manager at Heathcote Farms, Bedfordshire. He is a former winner of the nabim/HGCA Milling Wheat Challenge
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