Field f cus It’s been an autumn of two halves for both our agronomists featured in this edition, reports Dominic Kilburn.
North Yorkshire A long drawn out process between harvest and winter crop establishment is how Yorkshire Arable Advice and AICC agronomist Andrew Fisher, summed up this autumn. “We got a lot of rain in September and, typically, just as it was drying up, we’d get another 5–10mm of rain which stopped any progress,” he said. “It was a frustrating and tricky time, and at one point I thought we were going to end up with a lot of fallow land over winter, but October was a better month and now 95 per cent of winter crops are sown,” added Andrew, speaking in mid November. “Up to last week soil temperatures have been relatively high and so winter crops are generally looking very good, and it’s now a case of chasing the herbicide sprays for broad-leaved weeds and meadow grass, said Andrew. Trooper (flufenacet + pendimethalin) and Lexus SX (flupyrsulfuron) have already targeted black-grass fields, while non-black-grass affected wheat crops are receiving pendimethalin and flupyrsulfuron to additionally control groundsel and volunteer oilseed rape. Now soil temperatures are falling, OSR herbicides will also begin.
Over the coming weeks, Andrew said he will be focusing on soil analysis ready for decisions regarding crop nutrition in the spring. “Interestingly, more growers in the region are looking to supplement their fertiliser applications with farmyard manure as well as digestate from AD plants, of which there are an increasing number in the region,” pointed out Andrew. “Digestate from food waste AD plants in particular provides a useful and balanced contribution to NPK, as well as adding soil conditioning benefits,” he concluded. Andrew Fisher can be contacted via email: conker.fisher@farming. co.uk, or tel: 07836711918
Notts and Lincolnshire Most winter crop drilling was completed by the end of October, said Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire based AICC and Arable Alliance agronomist Andrew Wells, also speaking in mid November. Following a very wet September, when little progress had been made in terms of wheat drilling, “impressive” progress was made by growers in October when conditions improved, noted Andrew. “In hindsight, if we’d known we were going to get a
prolonged spell of good weather in October, then we may have waited a little longer in some areas to achieve better seedbeds, but progress was very good and even some land following early lifted sugar beet and potatoes has been drilled with wheat which was not expected to be the case,” he said. With late drilled wheats just emerging, Andrew said he was surprised by the lack of slugs in cereals, although the dry spell recently has undoubtedly helped, but numbers appear higher in crops following oilseed rape, which is to be expected. The delay in drilling has inevitably given growers more opportunity to hit black-grass and, while pre-em mixes all went on satisfactorily, in the worst affected fields, black-grass is now starting to come through, albeit in poor condition, he explained. To date, Andrew reckoned that aphids had been easy to find in cereals and were still flying in mid November, in spite of a couple of sharp frosts. There may be the requirement of a late November/early December BYDV spray but that will also depend on ground conditions at the time, he suggested. With soil temperatures now beginning to fall, propyzamide treatments in oilseed rape are starting (in mid-November) and will remain a priority to get finished as soon as possible. “I continue to monitor for oilseed
rape leaf disease after phoma arrived early in September, brought on by the wet conditions. Most crops were sprayed in mid-October with phomaacting difenoconazole-based products and I will be monitoring them going forward to see if a second spray for phoma or light leaf spot control is required.” Some land originally destined for spring cropping was switched to second wheat in late October because of good seedbeds and the potential for good black-grass control, and much of the remaining medium/heavy land has been cultivated and left for over-wintering. With a lot of growers staying with barley as their spring cereal option, Andrew pointed out that, following three rather benign years, 2017 had been more challenging for many of his growers, mainly due to the very dry spring causing uneven crop emergence, delayed nitrogen uptake and consequent issues with some high grain nitrogen levels. “Most of them are growing it for malting quality and as long as we don’t get three bad years from here on, I think they will stick with it due to its gross margin and potential for black-grass control.” Winter bean drilling has just been completed and Andrew reported a good start to the beet harvesting campaign with yields of 70–80t/ha not unusual. It has been 20 years since Andrew last oversaw a crop of winter linseed, but this autumn he has one grower giving the crop a go for the first time as an alternative winter break crop. Grown on contract with Premium Crops, Andrew said that there were some effective herbicide options available now for winter linseed and as a replacment for spring beans on the grower's farm, it has the advantage of a much earlier harvest date. “So far the crop is looking good and I am quite excited by the prospect,” added Andrew. ■
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