Crop watch: North – Farmers Weekly – Helen Brown

I am excited to report that spring has finally arrived in Cumbria, signalled by the casting aside of wellingtons in favour of boots. ...

This spring/summer is likely to be a very difficult one for many due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

However, the past couple of weeks have brought some welcome sunshine, and it is great to see growers in fields able to get on with land work, fertiliser/manure applications and cultivations ahead of spring cropping.

Drilling of spring wheat and barley has started in some cases and, after a long winter, it is worth considering sowing spring barleys earlier rather than later, as drilling date is key to improving yield potential.

Where conditions do not allow drilling earlier, consider increasing seed rates to counteract the reduced potential for tillering by the crop.

The only thing winter cereals have in common this season is that they are all very variable. Earlier-drilled crops are approaching growth stage 30 and TO applications have started to be applied in these situations.

Early-sown barleys and wheats look very strong and on these, I am applying an appropriate dose of trinexapac-ethyl in the TO spray for plant growth regulation and to reduce apical dominance.


Inevitably, the mild and wet conditions over winter mean there is disease present in winter crops, noticeably rhynchosporium in barley.

This is especially visible in forward crops with high plant populations. A fungicide application at TO in winter barley is important for early disease control to maintain tiller numbers, as final ear numbers are directly related to yield.

However, not all winter crops are so advanced, and weed control is the priority on some of the later-sown crops where autumn residuals were not applied, which is a common scenario this spring.

Nutrition is also important in these situations to get the crop moving. These crops have lower disease and lodging pressure.

However, they also have lower yield potential, and it is important to manage crops accordingly this spring. Nitrogen use should be based on yield potential, not on historical use, but do consider the N status of soils.


Find details on our agronomy training & careers, as well as current support staff vacancies...

View Careers

Fieldwise Live

Ensuring growers are not missing out on the latest research, expert advice and crop reports...

Learn More

Get in Touch

We're here to help and answer any questions you might have. We look forward to hearing from you...

Envelope Icon Email Us