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Arable

A tale of two harvests is the main talking point for our agronomists this month. Dominic Kilburn writes.

available for use for the first time, and with no other options for control, she’s hoping wireworm will not be a problem. Bean and linseed harvesting was beginning in the middle of September and planning for phoma and light leaf spot will be underway at the start of October. Christina can be contacted via email: Christina@cjsagronomy. co.uk or tel: 07969507082.

East Midlands

Northumberland

Field f cus Nottinghamshire-based agronomist Christina Scarborough can only describe yields from this harvest as abysmal. Growers in the region, she said, were lucky if they got 7.5t/ha for wheat and bushel weights in barley have struggled to get to the 60s. In terms of oilseed rape, seeds were small and yields very poor overall. Christina reckoned that the region missed out on beneficial growing conditions and sunshine hours in mid-June, which other parts of the country received, and, with near normal yields being found just a little to the north, this seems to back up her observation. “Growers had such a textbook season last time round and this one has been the opposite,” she stressed. “I think they were also hoping that some of the newer varieties they were trying would offer more robustness against adverse conditions and pull yields up, but that hasn’t been the case. “As it turned out, it didn’t matter what growers did during the course of the season, it didn’t make any difference in this part of the country.” As a consequence, Christina reckons that several growers are

reconsidering their wheat variety choices for the season ahead – some looking at high yielders such as KWS Siskin and Graham, and others going back to tried and trusted varieties like JB Diego and Grafton for consistency. Speaking in mid-September, oilseed rape drilling had been completed and crops looked OK, she said, although requiring a little moisture. Pre-emergence sprays had been held off in the main, waiting for full cotyledon. At the time of writing, flea beetle had not caused any difficulties despite favourable weather, however slugs were a very different matter. “We were finding huge populations in the bottom of the wheat at harvest and consequently there are a lot to be found now. It’s not just the grey slugs either – we are finding a lot of the black ‘garden’ type too,” she highlighted. Heavy land wheat drilling is likely to be underway by the time this edition lands on the doormat and stubbles will be left alone as a tactic this autumn, allowing black-grass to chit naturally. “We’re trying this rather than a cultivation pass, which I don’t think is always necessary, and it saves on labour and diesel too,” she added. Avadex will be added into the pre-emergence herbicide mix as an extra layer to counteract the blackgrass threat. New grass leys seem to have gone in well and found a bit of moisture but with no Dursban (chlorpyrifos)

With 95 per cent of the cereal harvest completed by midSeptember, AICC agronomist Jim Callighan said that, despite a catchy start to the harvesting period, hybrid winter barley results this season had left most growers feeling pretty upbeat. “While the two-row crops were not so good, with poor yields and bushel weights, the hybrids performed well at over 8.5t/ha on average, with acceptable bushels. It was wet last autumn for us, and again in the spring, and I think the hybrid vigour has allowed them to put up with the conditions compared with the two-rows, which yielded much less at 6.2t/ha–6.8t/ha. “Hybrid varieties including Quadra, Fletcher and Bazooka were very consistent performers this year,” added Jim. Oilseed rape yields were well back on last year’s crop, he pointed out; the better crops yielding 3.7t/ ha, however the majority were below this. As was the case further south, small seeds and lower oil percentages were features. “We are very pleased with the wheats though and both first and second wheats showed consistency.

My growers averaged 10t/ha and the milling varieties including Skyfall, Trinity and Cordiale all had excellent proteins and good quality overall. “Cordiale is still a popular variety up here because it’s seen as bombproof and very marketable,” he added. Winter oats have done very well too, suggested Jim; good bushel weights, good colour and quality with yields averaging 8.3t/ha–8.6t/ ha. More problems with grass weeds, as with the rest of the country, have been noted in Northumberland this summer with rat’s tail fescue causing problems by coming into fields off the margins. A preemergence treatment of full rate flufenacet + DFF (as in Liberator) with pendimethalin or prosulfocarb will be used to control what is an increasing problem alongside bromes, while post-em products such as Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) and Broadway Star (florasulam + pyroxsulam) will also be tried. Black-grass is also on the increase in the region, highlighted Jim, with more sightings in wet field corners, for example, than in the past. The same is happening further to the north in Scotland, he added. “As far as I am aware we haven’t got resistant black-grass here as yet; some say black-grass comes in on machinery such as combines or balers, but I think there’s a chance that it’s always been here and maybe a change in tillage practice, or climate, has prompted its appearance. “It’s a watching brief for sure and our farmers are well aware of the problems those further south have encountered and so they are being ultra vigilant. There’s no skimping on anything where black-grass is concerned,” he suggested. Jim Callighan can be contacted on email: agcon@supanet.com. ■

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October 2016  

Farmers Guide Magazine October 2016 Issue