Spring wheat and oat area well down

CONTRACT: Ag contractor Nicholas Brennan, from Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, preparing to sow potatoes for the O'Gorman brothers. Photo: Roger Jones.
CONTRACT: Ag contractor Nicholas Brennan, from Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, preparing to sow potatoes for the O'Gorman brothers. Photo: Roger Jones.
Pat Minnock

Pat Minnock

With the good seedbed conditions prepared over the last few weeks, despite the late spring, there is still reasonable yield potential for spring crops. With temperatures higher than normal and occasional showers, crops have germinated quickly and should not suffer any setback from now on. Another decent summer will still deliver good returns.

There is no doubt, however, that the late spring will impact greatly on the amount of cereals grown in 2014. From speaking to people in the trade it appears that there were greater plantings of winter cereals, especially barley, last autumn than originally estimated.

This may be the result of the greater use of home-saved seed. It would also appear that there is a greater interest from dairy farmers in re-seeding this spring, probably due to the demand for grass, higher prices for conacre and the poor returns from tillage crops.

The late spring has also ensured that the spring wheat and oat sowings will be down dramatically by as much as 50pc. The beans acreage will also be back by at least 25pc.

The spring barley acreage is also expected to fall. There is a greater interest in sowing fodder beet, maize and particularly spring oilseed rape. It is still not too late to sow these crops and a better return can be expected from these three crops sown at this stage than late-sown spring barley.


Returns from maize can vary dramatically each year and only for the good year in 2013 the maize acreage would have fallen further.

Fodder beet also performed well in 2013, with excellent yields and reasonable prices.

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This is an excellent form of feed for the dairy or cattle farmer, however, the failure to agree contracts at sowing times has meant that the acreage of this crop has remained relatively small over the last number of years. Feeders and growers should agree contracts for fodder beet at this time of the year as it is a win-win situation for both parties.

Winter crops continue to thrive and are well ahead of the same period last year. I recall at this time last year, growers considering ploughing up winter oilseed rape. Most rape crops are currently in full flower. These have received their full amount of nitrogen and many have received a fungicide at early flowering. There are high incidences of pollen beetle; however, these are no harm and actually will help pollination. Crops should be monitored carefully and may need a further fungicidal treatment and possibly treatment for weevils at 90-100pc petal fall.

Most winter wheat crops are at or beyond growth stage 31-32 and should have received their main T1 fungicide and growth regulator. If Cycocel has not been applied and crops have reached growth stage 32, Moddus plus Cycocel may be used. A follow up with Terpal or Cerone may also be appropriate with the T2 fungicide as it is likely that the lodging risks to cereals this year may be higher than normal.

The main nitrogen application should also be applied at this stage, if not already, with up to 60pc of the total nitrogen now applied.

The balance or third split should be applied around growth stage 37-39. Make sure to only apply the nitrogen allowed under the Nitrates Directive. Now is also the time to consider treatment for wild oats and sterile brome.

There is high septoria pressure on all wheat crops so the T1 fungicide, if not already applied, should consist of a Triazole with an SDHI. There are many options such as mixtures of Gleam/Venture with Adexor/ Aviator/Treoris. If you are in an eyespot situation, the use of Cauldron, Venture Extra, Proline, Seguris or Treoris will help combat the problem.

If mildew is present or if you have a mildew susceptible variety such as Lion, a mildewicide should be included. It is also preferable that Chlorothalonil should be included in all mixes. Watch the overall amount of Chlorothalonil; a maximum four litres can be used over the season. Use of different formulations overcomes this issue.

Winter barley crops look extremely good and are very advanced at this stage with little evidence of disease, especially where a T0 was used. If not already applied, these should receive their main fungicide. All nitrogen should be applied at this stage. The total allowable at Index 1 is now 180kg/ha.


Wild oats can be treated using Axial, Avena, etc, which can be used up to flag leaf. Depending on the level of disease present, a number of options exist; a 2/3 rate Triazole (eg Proline) with an STHI can be used for good crops that will warrant a higher fungicide spend, whereas a 2/3 rate Triazolel with a Strob or a product such as Allegro Plus may be a cheaper option.

Crops with low yield potential could be treated with a Triazole plus or minus a mildewicide (eg. Corbel). Again, Chlorothalonil should be included. A PGR such as Terpal and Cerone can be added at this time. While the optimum time for Cerone on winter barley is growth stage 37, it can be used up to growth stage 51. While the optimum timing for Terpal is between growth stage 32-37, it can be also used up to growth stage 49.

Winter oat crops are very tall this season and need more growth regulation. Moddus at 0.2L/ha and CCC 750 at 1L/ha can be applied before growth stage 32. The fungicide programme should include a mildewicide.

Due to the higher than average temperatures this spring, monitoring of aphids is more important than ever and potential yield loss from BYDV for late-sown spring crops is much greater this year. A single Pyrethoid spray should be applied early at growth stage 14. If a follow-up treatment is required then a non pyrethoid (eg Primicarb or Chloropyfos) should be used.

  • Pat Minnock is a Carlow based agricultural consultant and a member of the ACA and the ITCA. www.minnockagri.ie

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