Many of our crops will be late due to weather

Each year is different but the weather has made this year very abnormal. From a point where crops were three weeks earlier than normal, it now looks like they will be one to two weeks later than normal.

The Teagasc Crop Better Farmers agree that the poor growth has made crop management difficult.

O'Donoghues in Meath

Joe O'Donoghue was applying Cerone plus a low-rate fungicide late last week to his winter barley, which he reckons has the most promise of all the crops so far this year.

"Winter barley is as thick as I have seen it for a long time and it is free from disease. The pale and yellow colours which were present a few weeks ago are gone and the crops have real potential," said Joe.

Joe hopes to maintain this potential by applying the final fungicide late next week when the crop is fully headed out.

However, he is undecided on what the final fungicide choice should be.

"Siltra worked well in barley for me last year but if the crop stays as clean as it is now I might use a cheaper combination of a triazole along with a strobulurin and bravo," said Joe.

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Winter wheat has remained very clean with no septoria on from leaf four.

Flag leafs are only beginning to peep out and Joe doesn't expect to apply the T2 until the flag leaf is fully out which he estimates to be towards the last week in May.

"We are not under much pressure as the T1 is only on between 10-12 days. It was delayed until the third leaf emerged and then the weather didn't help," he said.

"It's probably just as well since the flag leaf emergence will be much later than normal," he added.

Joe intends to switch from a prothioconazole product (Boogie) used during the T1 to an epoxiconazole-based product at T2 (Venture Extra or Seguris). But this plan hinges on whether septoria develops in the upper canopy.

Williamsons in Wexford

The Williamsons (George and Ken), in common with many other farmers, are finding crop management very difficult this year.

"The early growth combined with the very poor growing conditions for the past five weeks has left us with a few headaches especially with the fungicide programmes on the winter crops," said George.

The T1 fungicide on winter wheat will be short by 10-14 days cover due to the delayed emergence of the flag leaf.

"Despite the lack of visible septoria on any of the leaves, we decided it was prudent to apply a carrier fungicide to bridge the long gap between the T1 and the T2," said George.

The flag leaf will be fully emerged this week and it's planned to apply Aviator and a chlorothalonil as soon as possible.

Spring crops were all sown within a period of two and a half weeks but the management of these crops is also proving difficult.

"We have quite a bit of the spring barley sprayed for weeds and aphids and have completed the nitrogen application," said Ken. However, ground conditions and stressed crops have kept us out of other crops," he added.

The rest of the barley will be treated with Ally Max, Galaxy and Sumi-alpha as soon as conditions allow.

Frontier is the main barley variety on the farm and Ken believes that there is very little disease in the crop so far. It is planned to apply Proline plus Corbel, if needed, as the first fungicide.

Crowleys in Cork

When I spoke to John he was well versed in management options for his crops after attending a discussion group with his local Teagasc advisor Ciaran Collins.

"Members of the group have similar problems to us, in that the distance between the T1 and the T2 fungicide will be longer than we would like," said John.

"But we are quite lucky as we only have 100ac in this category, as the weather conditions stopped me applying the T1 to the entire crop."

Most of the wheat will not require a holding spray but John thinks that he will hold off spraying the 100ac as long as possible especially if the next week stays largely dry.

"If I am forced into applying a fungicide early then I will split the T2 and not spend any more money than normal," said John.

Winter barleys are looking as well as other years on the Crowley farm and John will apply the final fungicide this week. The head is nearly fully emerged and there is little or no disease present.

"We are looking at Barley Pack as the final fungicide this year, as the product has a reputation of leaving a golden straw and straw quality is particularly important to us," said John.

Michael Hennessy is a Teagasc crops specialist based in Oakpark, Co Carlow.

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