Crop Watch - Farmers Weekly - Helen Brown

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A warm winter in Cumbria has left winter cereals thick and tall with huge yield potential.

However warm and wet weather over the last month has provided a ‘perfect storm’ scenario for wet weather diseases Septoria in wheat and Rhyncosporium in barley, which are now evident in most crops.

Farmers Weekly Crop Watch 15th April 2019

Our regional trial site near Carlisle shows massive differences in disease levels between varieties highlighting how variety choice can ease disease management in spring, which is crucial with increased pressure to consider integrated crop management.

Winter cereals with high disease and lodging pressure have received a T0 fungicide alongside a plant growth regulator.

In general, winter herbicide applications have done an excellent job and cereals are clean. However, where spring weeds are abundant, herbicides have been applied as well as wild oat sprays where necessary.

Crops are now approaching or at T1 and it is essential to dissect plants to see true growth stage, as the large canopies produced this winter can be misleading and recent cold winds and frosty nights have slowed down growth over the past couple of weeks.

Spring cereals in Cumbria are usually planted around Grand National time, and this year is no exception. A wet March and snow in early April delayed drilling. However, they are mostly now in the ground and will be emerging soon.

Grassland is growing fast, and this is a perfect time to assess grass fields for management.

Key things I’m looking for are weeds, nutritional problems and importantly, percentage of sown species in the sward to decide which fields require re-seeding or over-seeding, in order to manage accordingly this summer.

Chickweed and docks are the most common grassland weeds around Cumbria and fluroxypyr based products are the basis of my control. The mild winter means docks are well established. However, it is important to spray healthy new leaves, not overwintered leaves for good control.