Tillage: Growing dependent on direct payments
Bright sunshine and warm days, despite some cold evenings and nights have brought tremendous growth. Winter barley has moved rapidly from tillering to flag-leaf emergence. The period of stem extension is when you get best value from fungicides.
Last week's tillage management article outlined product choice. Moddus or Optimus can be used now to improve rooting, and shorten and strengthen straw. Optimus has 66pc of the amount of active ingredient in Moddus, so the rate has to be increased accordingly.
But the uptake of Optimus is faster. Terpal can also be applied now. Application of Cerone is normally held to growth stage (GS) 37, and can be applied up until to GS 49. However, early application is preferable with all products.
Winter wheat crops should be inspected now for eyespot as the mild winter combined with a lot of early sowing last autumn will have caused increased risk. The threat is highest on heavy soils with second wheats.
Risk is slightly lower if the previous crop was barley, and is substantially reduced after a break crop or in min-till systems. However, the final call on fungicide selection will be made following crop inspection. Cauldron, Deuce, Venture Extra, Venture Jewel or Proline give good activity.
A growth regulator must be applied at GS 30/31 to reduce straw length and improve strength. CCC is the mainstay of most programmes, with rates varying from 1.75-2.25l/ha of 75pc active ingredient.
Tall straw varieties such as Avatar, Dunmore and Weaver will require the higher rates, and will probably require a follow up with Terpal, Cerone or Canopy. Apply Ceraide or CCC at GS 30-31 on winter oats and include a preventative mildewcide, such as Talius, Tocata, or Capelo. Flexity has both preventative and curative properties.
With a lot of April-sown spring barley this year it is likely that aphid control will be important. The ideal timing is GS 13-15. Later applications are less beneficial, as indeed are repeat applications.