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Field f cus Wet weather in the East Midlands is delaying winter crop planting for Christina Scarborough’s growers. Dominic Kilburn writes. The late, catchy harvest experienced by growers in the East Midlands is having a knock-on effect for autumn winter cereals drilling, says Nottinghamshire based agronomist Christina Scarborough. Oilseed rape crops all went in on time and have established well with minimal slug and flea beetle losses but, speaking in mid-October she said that in a typical season, all winter barley sowing would be completed by now however a considerable acreage is yet to be drilled. Of more concern, in a heavy land area in which growers don’t like to drill wheat any later than they have to, barely 20 per cent of the crop has gone in the ground. “The late harvest certainly delayed the start of autumn drilling but the wet weather since

has exacerbated the situation. “On many farms it has simply been too wet to even get on the land and start ploughing,” she added.

Black-grass As was generally the case across the country, Christina said that her farms saw good control of black-grass last season and so she is hopeful that seed counts will be diminished for the season ahead. “The pre-ems worked very well last autumn for sure, but an increase in the variety of crops in the rotation – winter barley and spring beans in particular, has very much helped with the level of black-grass control we are getting.” “My growers are using Avadex as part of their black-grass strategies but not the new liquid variant. It delivers less active ingredient in the dose rate,

resulting in less efficacy, but it costs the same as the original granular version. “I know it has the advantage that growers can apply it themselves, rather than get a contractor in to apply the granular version, but farmers do look at the cost of the product first, and if they see no advantage and the price of the two products is the same, then they are unlikely to be interested in the new liquid formulation,” she commented.

Variety clear out On the back of last season’s successful performance, Christina has recommended growers stick with Group 2 KWS Siskin as their main feed variety. Typical yields were between 9.8–11t/ha but its ease of management, particularly important for her mixed farms, was its key advantage. “Siskin stands very well and its disease resistance profile is very good meaning that yields aren’t compromised even when fungicide timings sometimes are.” Selected as a JB Diego replacement, Shabras from Syngenta has similarly good standing and disease resistance, noted Christina, and will also play a significant part in growers’ plans.

“I looked at its performance in Syngenta trials and I have high hopes for the variety. I will also be growing it with the company’s new SDHIbased seed treatment Vibrance Duo (fludioxonil + sedaxane), looking to give the crop an establishment boost in black-grass affected areas. “Its emergence properties seem good, but when compared at the out of ear stage with an untreated crop, the effects of Vibrance Duo appeared outstanding,” she said. KWS Tower and KWS Orwell winter barley varieties have replaced Glacier on the basis of improved straw quality (Tower) and yield (Orwell), she added. As an important reminder, Christina highlighted the new greening rules that are coming into force on the 1st January 2018, and which will mean a complete ban on the use of all plant protection products on Ecological Focus Area (EFA) fallow land, catch and cover crops and nitrogen-fixing crops. The ban applies from the time of sowing the crop, even if this is before 1st January 2018, to harvesting. And it also applies to seed dressings. Christina can be contacted via email: Christina@cjsagronomy. or tel: 07969507082. ■


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