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Friday 9 December 2016

Now's your chance to start sowing

Tillage

PJ Phelan

Published 16/11/2011 | 06:00

Soil conditions improved a little last week, giving an opportunity to sow winter wheat and, for a few brave farmers, some winter barley.

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Min-till operators, who got caught with land that had been disc-harrowed but never came dry enough to sow, were back in last week ploughing up dry soil to give a suitable seedbed. Emergence will be slow and retarded further with deeper sowings and Latitude seed dressings.

From now on, it is probably wiser to postpone sowings to next spring. Rolling after sowing has resulted in waterlogging in low areas of fields and an increased risk of herbicide damage. The risk from herbicide application will have to be weighed up against weed competition.

Annual meadow grass (AMG) is a top priority now in winter barley as it is not possible to control it after tillering. Options for control of AMG include Bacara at 0.5-0.75l/ha, DFF at 0.25-0.3lha plus 2-2.5l/ha IPU, Flight at 3l/ha plus IPU at a max of 1.5l/ha, Stomp Aqua at 2.2-2.9l/ha or Cougar at 1-1.5l/ha plus IPU at 0.75-1.0l/ha.

The same products may be used on winter wheat along with Sumi-Max at 0.1l/ha, which gives good control of cleavers and other broadleaved weeds and Broadway Star at 0.265kg/ha plus Biosyl plus Stomp Aqua at 1.75l/ha.

The options for winter oats are much more restrictive and will largely consist of Bacara at 0.5l/ha. This should not be applied to oats until the crop has been hardened by a few nights frost.

The continual moist weather is providing ideal conditions for slugs, which puts late-sown crops at high risk. Redigo Deter seed dressing will prevent seed damage but will not protect the leaf.

Plants are particularly vulnerable to slugs up to the two leaf stage and crops should be monitored carefully.

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Bayer CropScience has a very useful publication called an 'expert guide to slugs' for those who wish to have a detailed understanding. It recommends that slug activity is best monitored before cultivation with shelter traps baited with chicken layer's mash.

These traps need only be left out one night compared to three nights for slug pellets. The shelter cover should be approximately 1ft in diameter such as a flower pot saucer, a slate, a tile or hardboard sheet with two heaped teaspoonfuls of mash placed under it.

The trap should be placed in the evening when the soil surface is moist and inspected the following morning before any sunshine heats up the area and slugs move on.

It recommends that nine traps should be placed in a 'W' pattern in fields of up to 50ac and 13 traps in larger fields. Pellets should be applied if an average of four or more slugs found per trap.

Particular attention should be given to headlands, known wet areas and areas from which straw removal was delayed. Slug pellets are based on methaldehyde, methiocarb or ferric phosphate.

Aphid counts are in general very low and will probably continue to be low if periods of heavy rainfall continue. The recent cold wet weather should finish off aphid migration into crops for this year.

However, if aphids are established within crops, an aphicide should be applied. Crops sown up to early November should receive an aphicide at the 2-3 leaf stage.

Later sown crops should only need an aphicide if very mild weather occurs after emergence or in known high risk areas.

Patrick J Phelan is a member of ITCA and may be contacted at pj.phelan@itca.ie

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