AGRONOMY UPDATE – NORTH
Sam Patchett and his growers are appreciating this autumn’s much more favourable establishment conditions, although they’re certainly not taking them for granted. Our autumn plantings have started off on a much better note this season thanks to the moisture we have in the ground. Thankfully too, coming off the back of a dry season, most of our land is in pretty good nick as we go into mid-September despite the amount of rain we’ve been having. Knowing just how rapidly conditions can change, however, the one thing we can’t afford to be is complacent. There’s plenty enough time for us to go into the winter crying out for moisture rather than needing to get rid of it. So we’re being careful not to waste this vital asset with unnecessary cultivation. Our winter rape has really benefitted from earlier sowing into good moisture with Take-Off seed treatment and starter fertiliser. There’s a small amount still to go in. But the vast majority is coming through strongly regardless of establishment system. We’ve only had isolated problems from flea
beetle so far. Occasional activity even in cold, wet weather means we’re not taking any chances here until all our crops are safely through the danger period, though. With a week being such a long time for OSR at this time of the year, we’re not taking any chances with the slugs that are, unsurprisingly, our main challenge at the moment either. Within the new metaldehyde stewardship guidelines, we’re concentrating on the best-targeted pelleting from crop emergence. Good quality Ironmax Pro ferric phosphate pellets are working well although it’s disconcerting not to see dead slugs on the surface anymore. It’s just like rat baiting, I suppose. But it still takes a little getting used to.
Weed control Early control of cereal volunteers as well as broad-leaved weeds is another particular priority now
much more of our OSR is going in after winter or spring barley. Unlike wheat volunteers which are much less numerous and not nearly so vigorous, we have to be on top of volunteer barley well ahead of any Centurion Max (clethodim) timing. Not least, because they’re appreciating the soil moisture every bit as much as our rape seedlings. The wet, early autumn means reportedly high dormancy is not getting in the way of some really strong stale seedbed flushes of black-grass. So we should be able to make good in-roads into the seed bank with glyphosate ahead of our cereal drilling and, where the label permits, with our pre-ems too if drilling is more than a few days after spraying. Wherever we have any black-grass or ryegrass, we’ll be employing a robust flufenacet-based wheat pre-em this time around. And we certainly won’t be tempted to hold-off on post-em spraying until the spring to capture late emerging grass weeds. Instead, we’ll be going straight-in with Hatra (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) and some extra flufenacet in November if we see any
Agrii agronomist Sam Patchett.
black-grass coming through. Apart from the much less effective control now being achieved from later spraying, after the past season’s drought our whole emphasis is on getting as much of our weed tidying-up as we can in the autumn to put the least possible stress on our crops as they come out of the winter. Agrii agronomist, Sam Patchett works with growers across West and South Yorkshire as well as his own family’s farm (sam.patchett@ agrii.co.uk). ■
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