Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Crops are looking strong as spraying nears its end -- pity about the weather

Patrick J Phelan

Crops are looking well, spraying is almost finished, price prospects are still improving -- pity about the weather.

Most winter wheat crops still have two-to-three clean leaves and have received their final head spray, which should reduce the fusarium risk presented by the continually wet weather.

They still need to be monitored for aphids and mildew, however.

Mildew levels are particularly high in Lion. Slugs are grazing the flag leaf in the same crops and in some cases can be found on the head.

Winter barley is filling well but botrytis is evident in upright ears. Most oilseed rape crops are leaning/lodged and I am concerned that pods which are buried in the crop will not fill.

Meanwhile, annual visits to commercial product and variety trials have commenced. Last Thursday at Dupont's trials in Rathangan even the control plot, which received no fungicides, still had two-to-three clean leaves. This proves that it has been a very disease free year so far, but humid conditions this week are likely to change all of that.

Their new SDHI looked promising and the task is now to identify which triazole will be the best partner. The inclusion of chlorothalonil is a must. The addition of a new SDHI to the armoury is most welcome, as we are reliant on new product development for the future of the industry. It will also increase competition and hopefully help to reduce prices.

I have found fungicide programme costs on winter wheat ranging from €74/ac, for non SDHI, to €119/ac where two SDHIs were used.

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At present, there is very little visual difference between the two programmes. Only harvest yields and grain price will tell if the additional €45/ac was justified. The recent increase in temperatures will have increased disease pressures and I expect that the coming week will show the strengths and weaknesses of different products.

Spring barley crops have come under increased pressure from rhynchosporium. Snakebite, Cropton, Quench and Propino appear to have higher disease levels than Summit or Taberna.

Symptoms appearing in the form of brown lesions shortly after fungicide application should not be confused with new lesions which appear watery green in colour. Crops which have not yet got their T2 need immediate attention. Product choice may well come down to what is available. In all cases, use chlorothanonil and a robust rate of triazole.

The task of going in to dessicate oilseed rape crops in two to three weeks' time will be difficult. Product choice is Glyphosate or Diquat. Glyphosate may take three to four weeks from application to harvest, depending on the weather. Use 3l/ha of 360g active ingredient for weed-free crops and 4l/ha if perennial weeds are present.

Diquat is faster acting. It should be used on crops which are fully ripe as it does not accelerate ripening. If applied too early, it will result in reduced yield. Use only on sheltered sites. Use a non-ionic wetter that is not an organosilicone. Consult the timing guides provided with product labels before spraying.

Sugar beet is finding the going difficult. Pigeons have grazed the leaves of some crops, and stunted patches, caused by low pH in small areas, are evident in others. Where lime deficiency is identified the addition of granulated lime is beneficial.

Overall broadleaf weed control has been good, but many crops still require a graminicide for scutch control. Use Pilot Ultra, Stratos Ultra or Falcon before the crop prevents spray penetration.

Grain stores should be thoroughly cleaned well in advance of harvest. No old crop should be retained in the store. All air ducts should be cleaned. After cleaning the store, place baits of grain. If insects are found, an insecticide such as Actellic D should be applied to all surfaces within the store.

Finally, most farms now have stocks of empty pesticide containers, all of which should have been triple-rinsed.

Before disposal to landfill, make sure that you have all PCS numbers recorded on your pesticide record sheets. If you have pesticides for return (boxes of unopened containers) to merchants, do so immediately so as to give an opportunity for sale before the season finishes. If you have pesticides for which the use period has expired, you must contact one of the authorised management companies.

Patrick J. Phelan is a member of ITCA. Contact him at

Indo Farming