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Field f cus Good seedbeds and crop establishment have pleased our agronomists this month as the last of the winter crops get drilled up. Dominic Kilburn writes.

Notts and Lincs There has been variable rainfall across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire in the past six weeks, said Arable Alliance and AICC agronomist Andrew Wells, speaking in midOctober. Some farms had received almost no rain at all and others several inches. “Most growers still have a bit more wheat to go in and many have delayed drilling the worst black-grass areas which has got to be a good thing,” he commented. Wheat which has been drilled has gone into good quality seedbeds, rolled down with slug pellets applied after rape. Pre-em and periemergence applications are now going on and Andrew is starting to write early post-emergence grass weed herbicide recommendations for the earlier planted crops, which will be flufenacet based. “On the majority of farms we are trying to avoid the use of Atlantis because of resistance. Later planted wheat will get a pre-em and we’ll then wait until later in November or December to see if there is an opportunity for a flufenacet based post-em,” he added. Right now, Andrew said that he is trying to focus on slug control in wheat after rape. “Where slug pellets were applied pre-drilling they seem to have reduced slug numbers 11R44B

significantly but if growers didn’t apply pellets then, they must be vigilant as the crop comes through and be prepared to apply pellets promptly if required.” The first half of October saw good growth in oilseed rape with none lost to pest damage – fortunately only about 25–30 per cent of crops have required an insecticide spray. “We tried to focus on seedbed quality when sowing rape in order to produce a very firm seedbed, rolling some fields twice if necessary, and I think simple things like that have helped reduce slug and flea beetle damage,” he pointed out. Some rape crops were re-drilled earlier in the autumn because of slug damage but these are now all looking good, he suggested. About 20–24ha (50–60 acres) of rape were sprayed off because of black-grass infestation – even after ploughing – and these fields will be drilled with either late sown wheat, or a spring cereal instead. Low levels of phoma are starting to appear in earlier drilled crops but infection levels are currently not near the required threshold for treatment. That said, it’s likely that by November phoma will have increased and a fungicide will probably be applied in tank mix with propyzamide for grass weed control. Andrew took the opportunity to remind growers that if they have fields of 2ha or less that border a watercourse, then a cross compliance buffer zone is required from January 2017. This is something to bear in

mind for anyone with any drilling left to be done this autumn. In addition, he highlighted that a common failure of RPA inspections appears to be NVZ record keeping. RPA statistics from 2015 show that almost 30 per cent of farmers inspected for NVZ compliance failed to meet the standards. “Most of them were compliant in terms of the nitrogen applications they were making in an NVZ but the main problems were a lack of records and nitrogen plans ahead of applications.”

North Yorkshire Land ploughed down very well this autumn and seedbeds were better than expected, said Yorkshire Arable Advice and AICC agronomist Andrew Fisher. Earlier drilled wheat, oilseed rape and winter barley established well in what has been an open autumn in North Yorkshire. Speaking in mid-October, he noted that several growers had completed their winter crop drilling in the region, although some black-grass affected fields had been targeted for spring drilling. “Growers here have had sufficient warning in light of what has happened to many farms in East Anglia and they are heeding the advice,” he suggested. While August-drilled OSR romped away, one or two later sown crops drilled after spring barley or winter wheat struggled to establish and were attacked by cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) as it came through the ground. “We lost one crop of rape to CSFB and so we pulled it out and replaced it with winter barley before anything else was spent on it, commented Andrew. Growers, he said, are currently getting stuck in to early post-


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emergence herbicide applications for winter wheat; typically a flufenacet and pendimethalin mixture, while some crops in black-grass affected fields had the same as a pre-em treatment. “Quite a few forage maize crops are coming off at the moment and drilling of those fields will have commenced in the second half of October and they may also get a preem of flufenacet to help keep them clean,” added Andrew. Some phoma has been seen in OSR crops in more sheltered parts of fields but no light leaf spot to date. Treatments for these diseases will be held off for now with the hope of just a single, precautionary spray of Proline (prothioconazole) in the autumn coinciding with a Kerb (propyzamide) application timing. More forward crops will get a PGR at the same time, said Andrew. Aphid populations are being closely monitored particularly as the earlier-drilled Deter (clothianidin)treated winter wheat and winter barley will start to become vulnerable to BYDV shortly. “There was certainly evidence of BYDV in spring barley earlier this year,” commented Andrew, who tends to switch to a more persistent Lambda-cyhalothrin-based pyrethroid if required. He pointed out to growers to be mindful of 2m cross compliance margins – and the risk of penalties – having noticed that some ploughs have got a little close to hedgerows where cultivations are taking place after late-lifted maize or fodder beet. “One or two are also thinking about buying fertiliser and, with competitive deals out there, this may be a good time to buy some of your requirement.” Andrew Fisher can be contacted via email: conker.fisher@farming., or tel: 07836711918. ■

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