Tillage farmers faced with key spraying decisions after dry spell


It's essential to clean and decontaminate your sprayer before the new season
It's essential to clean and decontaminate your sprayer before the new season
Aidan Kinahan from Kilfinane, Co. Limerick was champion young handler at Midleton Agricultural Show. Photo: Edward Dudley
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

Sometimes in farming, you can be so busy with the head down that you forget to look up. I felt like I was rejuvenated, after myself and Jim O'Mahony spent a day judging the Zurich Farm Insurance Farming Independent Farmer of the Year Awards 2017.

We had three very different farmers, but the one thing that they all had in common was their optimism. They were all forward thinkers and maybe more importantly doers.

Just chatting to them, gave me a pep in my step that reminded me why we are tillage farmers. It is a really exciting time for tillage farmers. We are always hearing the doom and gloom stories. I am guilty of that, too - the concerns about sprays soon being ruled out, expensive machinery and terrible prices for grain.

But these farmers hear the same negative stories and look to change for the better. They are constantly looking at how they can improve. They truly are inspirational and I came home with my internal batteries recharged.

While I was off judging, Phil was busy spraying with the fine weather. The crops got badly stressed during the dry spell and we are now having to decide how to protect the crop from disease without setting them back.

The winter barley got its final spray of Ceriax at 1.6l per ha and Bravo at 1l per ha, to protect it from ramularia and other fungal diseases. It has the full head and awns out now. It also got some final K to help with both bushel and straw. It should help with straw brackling later in the season. Barley likes its nitrogen early and this year, with the dry spell, we were wondering if it got the full rate that was applied or had the dry weather prevented the plant taking it all up? It may affect the grain fill later in the summer. The winter wheat is also suffering form the stress of the dry weather and is looking paler than we would like at this stage of the year.

Again, we were wondering if the crop had taken up all the fertiliser that was applied? Rust seems to be a bigger problem than normal in our area. We don't seem to have that big a problem, but that may be because we previously went with Corbel, which may have controlled it better. We are, however, suffering more with mildew than rust. The varieties that are more prone to rust like Avatar, J B Diego and Weaver got Adexar at 1.7l per ha and 1l of Bravo at T2. The other varieties, Costello and Lumos, got Librax at 1.6l and 1l Bravo per ha. This should help control both mildew and rust.

The spring barley which is at growth stage 30-31 got its T1, which included Corbel at .3l per ha for mildew as Mickel is very prone to it. It also got Wolf Trap Manganese which, again, is to help with the drought stress due to the dry April.

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The oats were so late going in that Phil is referring to them as summer oats. We sprayed off a grass field, topped it and direct drilled in the oats with a Duncan drill and rolled them. They are up and well established. I was worried about them as the crows were having a party in the field.

The Fuego beans were struggling in the drought, too. The bean weevil has moved out into the main crop from the headland and notching could be seen throughout the field. We had no choice but to spray with Sparviero at .75l per ha and added a seaweed product called Phylgreen 200 in to help the plant. We then came back with Basagram at .86 kg per ha to help control the volunteer oil seed rape coming through. This product cannot be tank mixed with anything else. We hope that by giving the beans the seaweed feed it would strengthen the plant.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter P&H Harris @kildarefarmer


* We need to get harvest ready. Now that all the sheds are empty, we can clean them and service all machinery.

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