In my opinion, May is the best month on the farm, and I was reminded why when the countryside burst into life over the past couple of weeks.
Winter barley crops are starting to push awns out and will soon be ready for the final fungicide, which will be aimed predominantly at ramularia and rhyncosporium.
Although ramularia risk is relatively low at present, as temperatures increase into summer, the risk will also rise. Therefore, I will be including chlorothalonil in my T2 winter barley spray as a preventative control. I am starting to consider how we are going to control this disease next year when we lose this active.
At present there are no ratings for ramularia tolerance, but I will be looking out for the varieties that perform well in the untreated plots at our Cumbrian trial site to help choose more tolerant varieties as part of an integrated management plan for this disease.
Silage time has begun in Cumbria and it is key that after-cut fertilisers are applied as soon as possible. It is worth noting that for every day after-cut fertiliser is delayed, about 150kg/acre of fresh grass is lost, which can soon add up to big losses.
Spring barley crops are now beginning to tiller and in general are looking very well. Growers are starting to apply weed control in fields with a high abundance of broad-leaved weeds, especially where there are significant numbers of polygonums.
In fields where weeds are yet to emerge, herbicides will be delayed and applied alongside the first fungicide application.
Maize is also emerging and is at the two-to three-leaf stage. In Cumbria, most of our maize is under film, so a pre-emergence herbicide is key to weed control.
Our maize demonstration site is now drilled and we have some interesting work with varieties, plastics, fertiliser and undersown grass.