Fine weather has pushed spraying regime forward

Helen Harris

Helen Harris

The whole country looks really well at the moment. I'm not sure if there are 40 shades of green as the song says, but the crops and grass fields are growing well.

It won't be long before the weeds start catching up and poke their heads up and make the countryside look a little bit more untidy. Having said that, our winter herbicide seems to have worked well. A combination of IPU and DFF has kept the crops very clean.

Thanks to the fine weather, we have completed a lot of work in the last month. The sprayer got emptied of anti-freeze, filters were checked and serviced. The land also dried up enough to spread fertiliser. The winter barley and winter wheat both got 3.75 bags of 0:7:30 to the acre, followed by 1.8 bags of Sulcan (27.5pc N + 5S) to the acre. As fertiliser is so expensive, we decided to send a sample off to be tested in a lab to check the NPK content. The results, I am happy to report, were that the sample contained exactly what it said on the tin.

Two fields of Grafton winter wheat looked a little stressed and under pressure. After taking soil samples, the results showed the fields were lacking in trace elements. The trace elements were copper, manganese and zinc.

For the first time, we are trying a new product called Vitomex. It is a liquid nutrient feed that has trace elements as well as fertiliser, 24.5pc phosphite and 21.5pc K.

If the plants get more vigour at this early stage, not only should it increase yield but it should also improve disease resistance. We should see some benefit quite quickly. In previous years, we used to spray the whole farm with Epsom salts for trace elements. Now we just target the fields that need it.

The winter barley has already received a growth regulator (Ceraide) and Corbel, as it has a touch of mildew, and a week later it received 0.5l/ha of Proline and 0.5l/ha of Modem. The early sown winter wheat, Einstein, has got CeCeCe at 1.5l/ha and Bravo 1.5l/ha.

The JB Diego has slightly less septoria, so we could go with a slightly lower rate of Bravo and used 1l/ha. We still have two small areas of weeds, poppies and cleavers that we will treat with Ally max and Starane respectively.

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This year is going to be unusual for our spray regime, as we normally would be one or two weeks behind where we are now. It doesn't make too much difference now, but when it comes to the end of the year, it could mean we have to go out with an extra head spray. This adds extra cost onto growing the crop that isn't in the budget.

The markets are erratic and none of the main websites are explaining why this is the case.

We forward-sell a portion of our grain every year, and it is very difficult to make decisions when you are not sure about your costs or which way the market is going. We have traditionally dried all our grain; however, this year we are thinking of selling some grain green. This would be very advantageous if the price of diesel goes up.

We are still out loading grain that we sold last year. We turned off the fans a couple of weeks ago, so I should see a difference in the electricity bill next month. The concrete yard is getting quite broken up from the heavy trucks and machinery.

We may have to invest in concrete for the yard before we start the harvest this year.

Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Email:

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