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Crop Watch – A Later Beet Establishment Plan

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-Farmers Weekly

Ben Pledger:

Last week's warm weather saw spring cereals drilled into kind seed-beds.

For those choosing to grow spring cereals for blackgrass control, hopefully, the temptation to drill was resisted. Grassweeds are emerging well at the moment, and another fortnight of patience could see another flush taken out pre-drilling.

I hope that I won't be eating my words in the middle of the month if we end up getting a lot of wet weather going forward!

The ability to produce fine seed-beds in the past couple of weeks has left some growers thinking about whether or not to start drilling sugar beet. Even though daytime temperatures were pushing 20oC, there were still frosts at night, managing to keep soil temperatures down around 6-7oC.

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Sugar beet

With the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments for sugar beet, aphids and virus yellows won't be far from the front of my mind this spring. I think growers need to go into this season with their eyes wide open, and expect to see some damage from virus yellows. 

My aim will to be to get crops drilled later, into warmer seed-beds to give them every possible chance of getting up and away and grown through the early, vulnerable stages as quickly as possible.

We won't be able to rely on the one application of flonicamid we are allowed to protect crops for the duration of this period. 

Making sure adequate nutrition is present and also minimising crop stress from herbicide applications will keep plants growing at a favourable rate.

With the prospect of drilling later, especially as we still have relatively dry soils at the moment, the conservation of seed-bed moisture is critical, and pre-drilling cultivations should be timed to reduce losses in this area.