Helen Harris: Our winter barley crop is still standing despite rainfall that was enough to flatten some crops

Helen Harris

Helen Harris

This time last year, we were very stressed about the drought. This year, we had showers that were heavy enough to flatten crops.

The very localised heavy showers during June have meant that one crop can get a heavy deluge and the one beside it little or nothing. In general, the crops are looking well this year and noticeably taller than last year, especially the spring barley.

You can tell that the winter barley is getting ripe, as the crows have started to land in it and are picking the plants at the edge of the field. It's looking good and despite getting very heavy showers, is still standing.

That could also be a bad sign and it could mean the crop is light? The winter oil seed rape has lost all its flowers now and the only thing we put on it was bees. They were busy pollinating and hopefully will make a difference to yield. Because of the showery weather, this is the first year that we have had to split the T3 on the winter wheat and use a carrier spray. The crop had started to flower even though it hadn't reached the three-week interval. We decided to go with Folicur at a high rate of 0.8l per ha and Bravo at 1l per ha. We used this higher rate on the crops that are more vulnerable to yellow rust, Bennington and JB Diego.

On the Costello and Graham, we reduced the Folicur to 0.6l per ha. We will top this up with 0.6l per ha of generic Prosaro and Bravo at 1l per ha to keep the crop clean till harvest.

Every year, we use four or five varieties of winter wheat to spread the disease pressure and the harvest time, as some will ripen later than others. This year, we have been very disappointed with the amount of disease pressure, especially mildew and rusts, on JB Diego and Bennington. It means that we are unlikely to use them next year, as with the increased costs and no benefit in yield, it's not worth it.

BYVD (barley yellow dwarf virus) is very evident this year across all winter wheat varieties in this area. Our Costello wheat seems to have slightly more yellow visible at this stage and we will only know if it has effected the yield when we harvest it and put it over the weigh bridge.

As we have been travelling around the country, we have seen the yellow tips that is a sure sign of BYDV. There is a growing debate about spraying and the benefit of not spraying, and allowing the natural predators, like lady birds do the job for free. If there are plenty of ladybirds and only a small number of aphids then there is no benefit in spraying.

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This is something that we have noticed a rise in since the banning of some seed dressings that contained an aphicide. As we lose more and more chemistry, we will need to learn to control these pests and diseases with different methods.

The spring barley is looking much taller than last year and has benefited from the rain. Cantton and SY Arderin are the two varieties that we have this year. Cantton is susceptible to rhyncho and had to be sprayed to protect the new tillers from dying off. We came back with Siltra at 0.5l per ha and Bravo at 1l per ha to carry us to awns out. The two different varieties look very different and SY Arderin has a lot more yellow tips from BYVD but is stronger against rhyncho.

The winter beans have been sprayed against chocolate spot with Rover at 2l per ha, and two weeks later got Signa at 0.4l per ha and Superphite at 1l per ha for downy mildew.

It also contained magnesium and manganese as trace elements to help the crop through its rapid growth stages. They got the same four weeks later and at that stage, the crop was very tall and we are hoping that the beans that were under the tractor and got damaged will stand back up and will recover. The crop didn't seem to tiller much this year but does have a large number of pods so we are hoping that it will do well. The early frost seemed to kill off the early flowers which meant that the lower pods never developed. This will help a lot during harvest as we can keep the header up slightly.

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