Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Conditions right to get back to work

Michael Hennessy
Michael Hennessy

Michael Hennessy

Ground conditions are coming right for land work again. The remainder of cereals and all the maize, beet, peas and oilseed rape should be sown as soon as possible.

At the risk of continually repeating the same message, assess each field for an economic return and be prepared to make the hard decisions where necessary.

Tillage farmers are neither a social service for land owners nor a cash cow for the industry at large. A margin has to be made from deploying their time, efforts and finances.

Almost all the spring barley crops sown in March are now up and at the one to two-leaf stage. Plant counts are as important this year as any other year. Judging by some plant counts, growers who planted barley crops at a lower seeding rate (less than 10 stone/ac) are now short of plants and these crops will struggle to meet their target yields.

At this stage, barleys should have around 250 plants/sqm or greater to achieve maximum yields. If crops are below this then early nitrogen and possibly an early application of a growth regulator will help to increase and maintain the tiller numbers.

This week, winter cereal growers will be flat out applying fertiliser and growth regulators to crops. Winter barley crops are anywhere from GS30 to first node. It's now too late to apply a growth regulator to aid tillering.

The main split of nitrogen should be applied to all barleys now. In most cases this will be the final application (nitrogen index 1 160kg/N/ha plus bonus yields, if available).

Disease levels in winter barley vary with levels of rhyncho from moderate to high. Those who are employing a three-spray strategy (two good sprays with a small carryover in between) should also apply the first fungicide application this week. Consider fungicides such as Proline (priothioconazole) and epoxiconazole products. Trials have continually shown that the biggest payback from a winter barley fungicide programme is from the first application, so be prepared to apply an 80pc rate of the fungicide.

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Winter wheat growth stages are quite variable, with earliest sown crops at an advanced GS 30 compared to later sown at early to mid-tillering. All crops sown before mid- October will need a growth regulator this week, if it has not been done already.

The main split of nitrogen is also due on these crops within the next few days -- this should bring crops up to 160kg/ha/N (130units/ac) in nitrogen index 1 land.

Disease levels in crops are high, but it's normal to have a high degree of innoculum in the crops at this time of the year. It's too early for the first fungicide and many growers will consider including Bravo 1.0l/ha with the growth regulator.

Don't be tempted to include a triazole (eg, Opus) as you could hasten the selection of insensitive Septoria in your crop, possibly leading to poorer control later in the season. Delay the T1 until leaf three has emerged, which will be in at least 14 days in the majority of crops.

Winter oats are now at GS30-31. Apart from crops that suffered badly from frost, most other crops are looking well.

Perhaps as a reaction to the frosty weather many crops have tillered more than usual and many of the tillers are quite strong. It is unclear at this stage how many of these tillers will survive to harvest. If most of these tillers survive then crops will be very thick through the season. This will increase lodging risk and mildew pressure. Given that the top inch of some soils is quite loose following the frosts over the winter, a cautious approach should be taken to growth regulation in winter oats this year.

Apply a growth regulator like Ceraide 1.0-1.4l/ha to winter oats to strengthen the base of the plant as soon as conditions allow. Follow this with the main split of CCC 750g/l at the second node stage.

Alternatively, use a mixture of Moddus 0.2l/ha plus 1.0 l/ha of CCC 750g/l at growth stage 31-32 to shorten the crop.

Crops are generally very clean with little or no mildew evident. However, to keep control of this disease, it makes sense to add a preventative mildewcide like Tallius 0.15-0.2l/ha with the growth regulator.

Apply the remainder of nitrogen to oats over the next week.

Don't forget to apply sulphur to crops as all cereals require around 15kg/ha of sulphur each year.

Also, include trace elements where a deficiency is expected (check soil results).

Irish Independent