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  1. Cereals

    Prolonged cooler weather has reduced aphid pressure in cereal crops. That said where aphids are already present in crops they will continue breeding at an increased rate for every degree over 3 °C therefore growers will continue to be vigilant and ensure crops are well protected to limit their risk of BYDV. Secondary spread of aphids will occur once 170 accumulated day degrees occur above the threshold of 3 °C

    Blackgrass is emerging in later drilled crops and at the end of winter, we will be able to assess how many plants have survived pre-emergence herbicide applications. Follow up contact acting herbicide applications should be planned and it is important to remember that these herbicides require active growth to be most effective. Recent cool temperatures have slowed crop growth right down and crops will be monitored for signs of growth occurring before application.

    Septoria tritici and powdery mildew are now being found quite widely in winter wheat crops but generally on older leaves. Yellow rust is not currently being found and recent cold weather will have delayed the progress of the disease further. However following changes in yellow rust populations, the disease is likely to be more prevalent in some varieties which we would not expect.

    Powdery mildew and net blotch have been widely reported in crops of winter barley. Consider treatment for powdery mildew in susceptible varieties if the disease is found on the last fully expanded leaf.



    Oilseed Rape

    Remember that the last date for use of propyzamide is approaching (31st January) and that carbetamide can be used until the end of February. Check soil conditions and weather forecast before application to minimise movement into water.

    Peach–potato aphids, the vectors of turnip yellows virus (TuYV) are still being caught in low numbers, and are commonly being found in central, eastern and southern England in winter oilseed rape - especially where the crops have not had a Biscaya or Plenum treatment yet.  It is likely that the effect of TuYV on yield will decline the later the crop becomes infected, but it is unknown if there is a cut-off date after which the impact is minimal.

    Phoma leaf spotting has increased dramatically following many rain events. Where crops have not already been treated, a fungicidal application is advised to safeguard yield potential. Phoma protection is increasingly important where crops are small as passage of the disease into the stem causing canker happens much quicker in small crops.

    Light leaf spot is now likely to be the priority for most crops. Reports of lesions appearing in crops are beginning to come in, including those crops that have received an autumn fungicide.

    Numbers of cabbage stem flea beetle larvae being found in crops is very variable. The pest is present in Lincolnshire, but generally below threshold, whereas much higher numbers are being found in the south. Insecticides have been shown to be effective against larvae right though until February, but these should not be applied unless the threshold is exceeded.



    News

    Avian flu H5N8 has been confirmed in a flock of farmed breeding pheasants in Lancashire. A Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Defra have urged poultry keepers to remain vigilant, with measures requiring domestic birds to be housed and kept away from wild species, remaining in place until at least the end of February.

    The NFU have accused Sainsbury’s of pursuing an “anti-meat” agenda, following the announcement that the retailer is working with Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust to encourage people to eat less meat and more greens.

    Defra is in the process of revising the NVZ designations that will apply from 2017 to 2020. Farmers are reminded that they have just 28 days from being notified if they want to make a challenge. Check whether your NVZ status is part of the proposed changes at WIYBY search map tool





  2. Crop production specialists Hutchinsons continue to develop their business across the UK with the announcement of three significant personnel appointments.
    Stuart Hill has been appointed as Head of Technology and Innovation, whilst Andy Hoyles has taken on the new role of Commercial & Nutrition Development Manager and David Bouch has now formally taken over the role of National Seeds Manager.

    Mr Hill, who arrives in the business from Frontier where he held the role of National Technical Development Manager, sees his appointment as a reflection of the leading role that the Hutchinsons business takes in offering new innovations and technologies to the arable grower, in support of their market leading agronomic advice and services.
    “This is an exciting time to be joining the business as we introduce leading innovations into the regional technology centres such as the Brampton Black-grass centre of excellence, and the new establishment and nutrition-focussed FENCe site.”

    Stuart_HillJan17

    Andy Hoyles, in his new post as commercial and nutrition development manager, will develop and lead the crop nutrition strategy for Hutchinsons, heading up the Healthy Soils programme, whilst also holding key commercial account management responsibilities.

    Mr Hoyles is no stranger to the business having spent 4 years previously with the company as an agronomist in East Anglia, before leaving in 2006 to join Frontier and lately Openfield, as Head of Farm Business.

    Andy_Hoyles2Jan17

    Commenting on his new position, Mr Hoyles says, “The role with Hutchinsons is hugely diverse and having the opportunity to influence some of the key areas of the business was of particular interest, especially the Healthy Soils programme, as it’s very topical.”
    “It’s great to be back working for the Hutchinson family, the business has grown extensively over the last ten years and although many things have changed, the culture and ethos of the business has clearly stayed the same.”   

    David Bouch joined Hutchinsons from Agrii last year as seed manager designate working alongside national seed manager, Colin Button. With the retirement of Mr Button later this year after 18 years in the business, Mr Bouch will lead the seed team.
    “Hutchinsons takes a dynamic, forward thinking approach to supporting growers in the production of quality crops in a sustainable and responsible manner. The seed sector is a vital part of this process and one that I very much enjoy being part of,” David says.

    “Recognising that the people working within the business are the essential ingredient in maintaining and enhancing the quality of service offered to their customers is central to the Hutchinsons business. This philosophy, allied to technological advances and continuity of management, has proved to be a key strength, and one that is re-enforced with these new appointments, “says David Hutchinson, chairman of Hutchinsons.

  3. The owners of the Boulby Mine in the North East of England, the UKs deepest mine, have announced that they will cease to extract potassium chloride, or MOP as it is commonly known, in the next two years.

    Boulby supplies over half of the UK’s potash – however it is becoming uneconomical to continue mining potassium chloride. The mine will continue however and will focus on polyhalite production – a valuable fertiliser containing sulphur, potash, magnesium and calcium.

    Thankfully there are plentiful global supplies of potash and there are other European sources of MOP – Russia, Germany and Spain all have working potash production facilities, says Tim Kerr, Hutchinsons fertiliser manager.

    Tim Kerr

    “This means that Polyhalite will undoubtedly become a more familiar product to farmers in the near future, as not only will the existing potash mine convert its production over to this product (marketed as Polysulphate) but also Sirius Minerals are pursuing an ambitious project  to develop a brand new mine producing polyhalite further down the coast from the existing Boulby mine.”

    As we approach the first round of spring nitrogen applications, it is worth reminding ourselves of the importance of other nutrients such as potash in contributing to yield, he says.

    Nitrogen is a key driver of yield, in part through its role in cell initiation and expansion. Increased cell numbers and size have a positive impact on capturing and converting the energy of the sun into dry matter. More, larger plant cells will consequently require more water to maintain turgor – and potassium is the key element in maintaining the cell tissue’s water content.

    “Remarkably, a wheat crop which is not limited by nitrogen will contain between 10 -15t/ha more water than a crop with limited N supply. In order to maintain the benefits of the nitrogen that is increasing the crop’s yield potential, correspondingly more potassium will be needed by the crop.”

    “The phosphate and potash recommendations in the tables in the Fertiliser manual (RB209) refer to specific yields (e.g. 8t/ha of winter wheat) and it should be stressed that if your expectation is greater than that, then it is worth paying careful attention to balancing the potash requirements of the crop.”

    Mr Kerr points out that early spring is as an ideal time for applying potash, so it is a good idea to check the levels of plant available potassium in your soil by having a sample analysed and ensure that sufficient K has been, or is, applied to meet the crop potential.”

    “Yield will be compromised where soil potassium levels cannot meet the demand of the crop. Considering that the peak uptake can reach 10kg/ha per day in cereals through the late spring, it pays to understand the capabilities of your soil and its ability to replenish the K in the water being taken up by the roots.”