Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Tillage: Planting at this late stage will leave crops owing you money

Sources say spring barley planting will be back.
Sources say spring barley planting will be back.
Pat Minnock

Pat Minnock

Finally, tillage growers can see some end in sight from a long and difficult spring. Last week saw significant field work completed and this week should effectively finish most of the spring sowing.

As usual the later and more difficult ground that still has to dry out may take a little longer. It is now getting late for sowing most crops and serious consideration should be given, as previously advised, to leaving the more unproductive and difficult land fallow for this season.

Planting a crop at this late stage will inevitably leave the crop owing you money. According to seed trade sources it is likely that spring barley planting will be back mainly due to greater winter crops' sowings, but also because of the difficult spring.

Spring wheat and oats are also back and it appears that the beans acreage will do well to be on a par with 2015.

The late spring and difficult sowing conditions has played havoc with many growers plans in relation to their requirement for three crops.

When completing the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications on behalf of farmers we note that this is leaving farmers in difficulty for the three crop rule requirement. This now requires a complete re-think in some cases.

Thankfully farmers remain resilient and can re-adjust their plans to satisfy this obligation. If you have to change your crop plan make sure you discuss with your advisor before sowing is completed. Fallow can be used as a crop and this may suffice in many cases.

Should another crop type be required there are still other options. If your intention was to reseed part of your land you might now consider arable silage as an option as well as the re-seeding.

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Spring oil seed rape can still be sown and will still give a reasonable return, compared to late sown spring barley, if properly managed. At this stage the crop should establish quickly and this may do away with the need for a herbicide and flea beetle control. Thereby minimising costs.

Fodder beet is another option. This is a crop that can pay very well, however it is necessary to have an agreed market. Over the years both growers and feeders have lost an opportunity to establish a good working relationship whereby both will benefit from growing this crop. Currently, fodder beet can leave good margins and also provide relatively good value feeding options for livestock farmers. I suggest €30-35 per tonne ex yard as a reasonable price to agree for next harvest and this should leave both parties happy.

It is essential that there is trust between both parties and that this agreement is put in place (and signed) now. This agreement must be honoured in the autumn even if prices vary later. It is obvious that prices for the product can vary either way.

Even if prices vary most farmers accept there are swings and roundabouts and by honouring contracts both parties will eventually benefit significantly. Many growers have given up on this crop simply because of the uncertainty with markets and no commitments from feeders.

The late cold spring has also restricted winter crop growth. The main top dressing should be applied at this stage to winter wheat and barley bringing nitrogen up to approximately 150/160 kgs per hectare.

A final application at gs 37-39 should bring wheat up to 210kgs and barley to 180kgs over the next few weeks. Higher historical yields allow increased nitrogen usage above this.

Winter oats

Winter oats and oil seed rape should have received their final top dressing bringing the total to 145 and 225kgs respectfully per hectare.

Growth regulation and fungicide treatments of winter barley, wheat and oats is now vital. Winter barley should receive its main fungicide treatment with a PGR.

This can consist of a two-thirds rate Triazole plus a two-thirds rate SDHI with either Moddus, Terpal or Cerone or their equivalents. Include a mildewicide if mildew is present. Winter wheat should receive the T1 fungicide when the third last leaf has fully emerged, likely in most early sown crops about now.

This fungicide treatment can consist of an SDHI + Triazole and Chlorothalonil. Winter oats could be sprayed with Tocata or Capalo along with the growth regulator, Moddus, up to gs 32 or Ceraide up to gs 39. Spring crops should receive their initial top dressing. All spring crops that are sown late will require at least one treatment for barley yellow dwarf virus at the two leaf stage.

Any spring barley still to be sown should have the basic fertiliser applied to the seed bed or preferably, by combine drill as this will give quicker and better establishment of crops at this late stage.

Pat Minnock is a Carlow based agricultural consultant and a member of the ACA and the ITCA.

Indo Farming