In the first blog of this soil management series, we're exploring why it's vital to start planning for soil management in autumn-drilled crops well in advance of planting; when the previous crop is still in the ground.
This week we were delighted to hear that one of our customers, Tim Lamyman, has scooped both a silver and gold medal in this year's Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition. Congratulations, Tim!
The 2019/20 cropping season was one that none of us will forget in a hurry, with one of the wettest autumns and winters in recent history. This was followed in quick succession by a drought and low levels of incoming solar radiation during the key grain filling period.
Last month we published the first in our series of blogs on grassweed management, looking specifically at black-grass, its characteristics and the strategies to take pre-harvest. You can read the blog here.
As with management before harvest, efforts to control grassweeds are crucial post-harvest too. Cultivation strategies during this time can have a significant impact on the overall grassweed burden for the following crop, but it is important to understand the biology of the individual species in order to use cultural options to the best effect.
The ability to store grain can be a fundamental aspect of a crop marketing strategy, providing growers with the opportunity to sell for later movement.
Of course, this can only be successful when effective grain storage facilities and management plans are in place, as these are pivotal for safeguarding premiums and grain quality to lessen the risk of rejections and claims.
Black-grass is major problem on many UK farms and it is now widely accepted that fully integrated solutions to manage the weed are fundamental to achieving any kind of success. Ultimately, most approaches are aimed at limiting seed return in order to reduce the overall population pressure.
Ramularia causes leaf spot symptoms in barley. While it has typically been more of an issue in the north of the UK, it is now being reported with increasing frequency further south. The disease has historically been a bigger issue in spring barley but the economic losses in winter barley are now an increasing problem too.
The disease has a complicated life cycle and is seed, air and trash-borne. The fungus, Ramularia collo-cygni, causes ramularia and grows from infected seed. It then moves systemically within new plant growth. Airborne spores produced on trash and crop debris can also infect plants.
There are no "blue prints" when it comes to cereal fungicide strategies. In fact, all plans should be under constant review based on risk assessment, factoring in variety, drilling date, weather, geography and spraying capacity.
One legacy of the winter we are just coming out of is that crops vary significantly, both in terms of growth stage and current levels of disease. Generally, septoria pressure is low due to so many crops being drilled much later, but the disease can still be found as a result of the mild, wet winter.
Disease control this season could be more challenging than normal, given the range of crops that are in the ground. We have everything from early-September-sown crops to varieties such as Skyfall which were still being drilled in early-March.
Variety and drilling date can have a significant impact on the speed at which a crop develops; in particular the time taken to reach BBCH 31.