Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Rising forward prices give good grounds for optimism

Patrick J Phelan

Crops look very promising and with forward grain prices continuing to move upwards, it gives good grounds for optimism, even if they are fluctuating a lot.

Prices remain strong due to concerns that Russian and Ukrainian yields will be down, leading to reduced export potential.

However, there are numerous factors which can still have an impact on harvest prices. If you have not sold any grain forward yet you should give serious consideration to selling 50pc or even more of your projected harvest.

Growth over the past two weeks has brought nearly all crops to the normal development stage for this time of year, despite the very slow growth through late April and early May and rapid development earlier in the year.

Winter barley is now in the critical grain-fill period. Disease levels are low and risk of new infection at this stage is also low with the exception of rust.

Crops that received a strobilurin in the past three weeks are relatively safe but need to monitored carefully, particularly if relatively lower fungicide rates were used.

Winter wheat spray programmes were difficult due to the prolonged interval between T1 and T2.

Some growers who applied a T1.5 came back in with less robust rates for T2 and now need to be particularly vigilant in inspecting crops and give careful consideration to T3s.

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Yield response from a more robust T3 is likely to be higher where lower rates or older chemistry was used at T2.

Winter oats continues to be under mildew treat. Talius or Flexity are very good preventatives. Robust rates of Corbel, Tern or Winger are needed for knockdown. Jenton or Tocata/ Capalo are excellent pre-formulated mixes.

The addition of N16 at 15-25l/ha with either the T2 or T3 on winter crops or the T2 on spring crops has been beneficial in recent years.

This year, interest has been expressed by the malting companies in having N16 included at T2 to boost nitrogen levels in malting barley on farms where levels have been marginal.

The cabbage seed weevil has been identified on a few crops of late winter oilseed rape. Weevils lay eggs in young pods.

The treatment threshold is two or more weevils per plant. Control with Karate at 75ml/ha.

The latest time for application is the end of flowering. Monitor spring crops in the vicinity of winter crops and spray at the green to yellow bud stage if the threshold is exceeded. Contact local beekeepers if spraying is proposed during flowering.


Spring crops have made tremendous progress over the past two weeks and have generally tillered very well.

Crops that received early growth regulators to promote tillering are looking particularly good. Grass weed control with Hussar was very effective, but did cause scorch and slowed growth on some crops.

However, as you cannot grow tillage crops with an undercanopy of annual meadowgrass, it is a very cost-efficient programme with the added benefit of taking out, or at least suppressing, wild oats.

Recent wet weather has increased the risk from botrytis (chocolate spot on beans and grey mould on peas) and downy mildew on both peas and beans. Control with chlorothalonil and Amistar or Signum.

In addition, Folicur or Fenzan may be used on beans. Folio Gold is very effective for downey mildew on beans.


Cross-compliance checks by the Department of Agriculture started last week.

Make sure that you have all your paperwork in order, especially pesticide records and fertiliser programmes for this year.

Be particularly careful that you do not exceed the maximum number of applications for pesticide products and that you use the minimum volume of water recommended.

Grain stores, which are also being inspected, should be thoroughly cleaned so as to avoid risk of insect or other contamination being carried from last season's crop to this year.

Make sure that you use the correct grades of oil in driers and have them serviced.

Finally, Camelina has responded very well to recent rain and is growing rapidly.

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

Indo Farming