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Sunday 19 November 2017

Four seasons in one day play havoc with spraying

Helen Harris

Helen Harris

This wet changeable weather is playing havoc with our spray programme. Even the temperature difference influences what products we use.

For the last month it is still trying to make up its mind whether its autumn or winter.

One morning you go out to a good hard frost and the next it's 14C.

Both the winter barley and winter wheat has received IPU, DFF and Cajole Ultra, for weeds and aphids.

The winter barley got slightly less IPU at 1.5l/ha than the wheat because of the fear of it leeching into the ground where it could damage the plant if it got into the roots. Wheat can handle it that bit better.

Both crops received 0.2L per ha of DFF and 0.16L per ha of Cajole. When we went out to look for aphids we were very surprised to see so many on the plants.

They may have carried BYDV into the crop but we are hoping we sprayed them just in time.

We have heard reports that there are areas of the country that have had to spray for aphids up to three times already because of mild temperatures.

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We'll have to go back into one of our wet fields and drive around the tram lines with wider wheels to try and flatten some of the ruts we made with the narrow spray tyres. They are now waterlogged and if we don't help get rid of them at this stage the problem will only get worse every time we spray.

When Phil was going out to spray the wet field he only put 2,300 litres in the sprayer tank on the John Deere 6310. Before he left the yard curiosity got the better of him and he put it up on the weigh bridge. He was surprised to see that even with the lighter tractor and not a full sprayer tank he was still 11.5t.

The most important job to do with the sprayer now is give it a good clean. Check all the filters, fill it with antifreeze and put it into a shed for the winter. It's this time of the year when you can get caught out by frost damage.

The cold frosty weather does help to keep the dried grain cool in the shed. I bought a thermostat plug in a garden centre a few years ago and it is really handy during cold weather. I plugged in the fans to the thermostatic plug and when the temperature drops below 5C they automatically come on. As soon as the temperature rises above 5C they shut off.

We have a grain thermometer and probe the grain regularly to make sure it has no hot spots. We try and keep it below 15C.

If we do notice any hot spots we can move the fans to concentrate on that area for a few days until it drops. We will be busy over the next few weeks out loading wheat which will make the pile in the shed very small.

Another job we have put off until now is an unhealthy looking tree close to the road. We have been keeping an eye on it hoping it wouldn't need to be taken down but that looks inevitable now. Because it is next to a busy main road we decided we may need help and should call in the experts. Sure enough, they took one look at the tree they started talking about traffic management and insurance. I think we will end up with a very expensive pile of firewood, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Helen & Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Email: helenharrisfarm@gmail.com Twitter: P&H Harris@kildarefarmer

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