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Double check your SFP and clean out those sprayers

LAST week saw the usualpanic of trying to get single farm payment applications submitted by the deadline.

Make time this week to review your application carefully to ensure that you have included all plots and that you did not include plots that you are no longer farming. You should also check to ensure that you have a soil organic matter sample for all tillage lands that are six or more years in tillage.

Virtually all sowing is completed with the exception of potatoes, where up to 20pc of the crop is still to be planted. A small amount of heavy tillage land will not be sown this year. Instead, it will be sown with winter cereals in September.

Despite the difficult weather, crops are making steady but slow progress. Most winter wheats have now received their T1 fungicide application – approximately two to three weeks later than normal.

Septoria levels have increased on the more septoria prone varieties such as Cordiale and Einstein. Monitor these crops carefully as temperatures rise since disease development will be more rapid under warmer conditions. Note your spraying date carefully as it is important not to allow more than three weeks between T1 and T2.

Winter barley has become distinctly greener in the past week and is making rapid progress with awns emerging on some crops. These are now due their final spray, which should consist of a triazole and probably SDHI. In all cases you must include chlorothalonil.

Winter oats at growth stage 32-33 should get its main application of growth regulator. This should be combined with a fungicide with good mildew prevention – Talius or Flexity. Use Winger, Corbel or Tern if mildew is present.

Some oilseed rape crops look very promising. However, light leaf spot has become established. Use Proline or Sanction if the crop lacks vigour and Prosaro, Folicur or Caramba where a growth regulatory effect is required.

Spring cereal crops have been very slow to achieve good ground cover, with the result that crops have been at risk from aphid invasion for a prolonged period. Despite low temperatures, there has been considerable movement of aphids and other insects into crops.

The aphids may be carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus and, if they are, there is a risk of significant yield losses. In most years there has been no response to aphicide application in March-sown crops.

This year, regardless of sowing date, crop covers have been similar to April-sown crops. Therefore, there is an increased virus risk. Most crops are now well beyond the ideal aphicide timing of growth stage 13-15 but may still benefit from aphicide use.

Slugs and leatherjackets have done a lot of damage on lea and second lea land. Spray backwards with Dursba or Clinch if there is more than one leatherjacket per foot of row.

Sprayer hygiene is very important when moving from cereals to other crops. Sprayer operators who normally only spray cereals may also be spraying crops such as beet, maize or oilseed rape this year. They need to pay particular attention to sprayer management.

The risk is greatest where sprayers are not emptied and cleaned after each use. The inclusion of aphicides and/or adjuvants are likely to bring any tank residue into solution, thereby increasing crop risk.

Last year I saw four crops that were severely damaged by herbicide residue. The traditional 'Als' herbicides present a very high risk of residue.

The safest procedure to ensure sprayers are residue free is to use a product such as All Clear Extra. Follow the full washing procedure, which specifies 0.5l of All Clear Extra per 100l of water.

Two washings with All Clear Extra followed by one with clean water are recommended for the traditional Als herbicides, with one All Clear Extra wash followed by a clear water wash required for the SX formulations.

Patrick J Phelan is a member of ACA and ITCA and may be contacted at

Irish Independent