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Crop Watch: maize trial plot findings – Farmers Weekly – Helen Brown

Helen Brown looks at agronomic issues in the North (Cumbria) ...

The last month has brought a serious amount of rain, which has brought an end to any field work.

Thankfully September and October allowed for almost all the winter crop acreage to be drilled and autumn residuals applied, so we are in a much better position than this time last year.

Autumn crops are in general emerging well, although the usual headlands and wetter areas are starting to suffer with the recent wet weather.

Oilseed rape is looking well with most crops around six to seven leaves. The extended period of wet weather has caused some purpling of leaves due to the plant being unable to uptake phosphate from the soil in these conditions.

Our maize trial plots have now been harvested with yields varying from 40.5-55.3t/ha of fresh weight.

The key findings included an increase of 4.4t/ha dry matter where the same variety of maize was grown under film compared to in the open.

A key part of this year’s maize trials was starter fertilisers and as early as six weeks post-drilling early vigour was visibly increased in some of the starter fertiliser plots.

Often in trials these early observations don’t equate to yield increases, however where Primary P was applied, dry matter yield and starch levels were increased at harvest, despite being on a site with high levels of phosphate, showing the benefit of placement fertiliser.

Our regional trial site was drilled on 29 September near Carlisle into good conditions and despite the heavy rain in the week following this is now nicely established.

We have 33 winter wheat varieties including new hybrid wheats and a plot with a mixture of four winter wheat varieties as a blend after recent research and increased interest in variety blends.

Also at the site are 27 winter barley varieties, winter wheat seed rate work and various tramline sized trial plots working with various bio-stimulant and micro-nutrition products. I will share insights from our trial site as it progresses in spring.

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