Important updates and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19)

Give maize crops the best chance

maize

With maize establishing well across the country now, attention is turning to the management of the crop during the crucial early stages.

The crop itself originated in sub-tropical regions, so it is a plant which loves conditions that tend to be warmer than the average UK spring. As a result, it is not uncommon for maize to show nutrient deficiencies, or for its growth to slow if temperatures are relatively cool.

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Black-grass management pre-harvest

Black-grass

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.

In this blog, I discuss a number of management options that should be considered pre-harvest to reduce seed return and which should form part of an overall, long term plan to eradicate the weed.

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Market report - 13th May 2020

Grain

Weather in the Northern Hemisphere continues to underpin grain prices, particularly ongoing dryness in some of Europe's key wheat-producing regions. Much of Northern Europe, the Baltics and Southern Russia have seen very little rainfall with the latter receiving just 5-20mm this week, so crops are continually being stressed. Consultancy, SovEcon, said on Friday that despite some recent rain, the extended drought period left irreversible damage to some crops which will result in lower output.

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Market report - 30th April 2020

Oilseed

World consumption of oils is forecast to decrease by up to 500,000 tonnes compared to that seen in 2019, due to less biodiesel and food demand.

In the UK, vegetable oil demand remains weak due to the reduced requirements from restaurants and the wider food industry. With lockdown and social distancing guidelines still in place, it is not known when this demand may pick up or return back to 'normal' levels, although it is thought to run through until the second half of 2020 at least.
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The value of a sound crop protection program

winter-wheat

​Over the past decade, we have seen many new fungicide actives tested and have also lost many others from the store as they are revoked.​

As growers start to look closely at fungicide programs for their winter wheat crops, it is interesting to look into the yield trends generated in Frontier's 3D Thinking trials to see where the contribution to overall yield will come from during the growing season.

The 3D Thinking program has always studied fungicides, their effect on yield and how to maximise the value gained from them.

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Ramularia leaf spot in barley – life after chlorothalonil

barley

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.

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Market report - 16th April 2020

Grain-2

With the Covid-19 pandemic still impacting trade around the world, grain prices remain volatile. The Frontier pools are the ideal vehicle to help growers manage their risk and, with spring drilling completed by many in good time following the dry weather, now is a sensible time to consider available end markets for your growing crop. This is especially true for spring barley; with a record crop looking likely this season.

The pools are set to close Friday 17th April. Read on for the latest market developments and for help with committing a proportion of your 2020 crop.

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Market report - 8th April 2020

Grain-2

European markets have steadied this week following a period of considerable price volatility seen last month.

Futures rallied €20 to 18-month highs in March as, amidst the pandemic, panic-buying gripped consumer markets and shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of bread, pasta and fresh meat. However, supply chains responded to the challenge and with supermarkets now restocked, demand has eased and markets are looking at their basic fundamentals for new direction.

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Ensure T1 sprays hit the target

winter-wheat

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.

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Welcome dry weather but implications for liquid fertiliser

Frontier-1917

The recent dry weather has been incredibly welcome and has finally allowed drills, sprayers and fertiliser spreaders to roll across the country. But, dare I ask, how long will it be before we're looking for some fresh rain?!

There is clearly a massive variation in growth stage and condition of the autumn crops across the country, but the more forward crops have started to get hold of applied nitrogen and actually look quite good .At the other extreme, some of the most backward crops are not that far ahead of the spring cereals that are now going in the ground. As long as reasonable seedbeds can be achieved and drilling doesn't get delayed, the potential for these spring crops should be good. 

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Market report - 2nd April 2020

Grain-2

Since last week's global rally, UK futures and physical prices have shed around £8/t due to a downturn in domestic demand and strengthening sterling. Consumers in all sectors continue to weigh up the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses but, with sterling firming and old crop becoming too expensive to export, it feels as though time is on their side.

Supermarket demand for bread, meat and eggs is supporting wheat inclusion for feed compounders around the UK, but industrial flour usage demand has crashed as the public no longer require pre-packed flour based products. 

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Spring barley drilling dates and yield performance

Spring-barley-crop

If you were to ask an agronomist the question, "When should I drill my spring barley?" the most likely answer would be, "In the spring".

While completely correct, the spring covers a fairly significant period in the first quarter of the year and within that time frame, depending on when you decide to take action, you can experience some very different outcomes. With that in mind, it's important to really dissect the spring drilling window to get a better understanding of the potential results we're dealing with. 

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What are the nutrition implications following the autumn/winter rainfall?

Flooded-soil

Well, it won't be surprising to learn that many soils will have lost nitrogen via leaching.

To demonstrate the impact, AHDB has produced a map to show the winter rainfall classification. This forms part of the RB209 book method for producing a Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS) index and is a good starting point as you begin to look at your nitrogen programme for this spring. 

However, rather than rely solely on this information, our team at Frontier decided to carry out the measurement of Soil Mineral Nitrogen (kg N/ha) at a number of nationwide trial sites. The findings are outlined in the below table.

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Market report - 4th March 2020

Grain-2

Wheat markets have rallied this week, bouncing back from the sell-off that we saw last week as a result of the coronavirus.

London wheat futures recovered £4 per tonne from Friday's low point, also encouraged higher by sterling weakness versus the euro. A settled UK weather outlook is encouraging for potential spring plantings but winter drilling is now done. Unfortunately, the prospect of a 2020 wheat crop that is little more than half the size of the 2019 crop is a concerning likelihood. 

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Maize seed dressings uncovered

Maize-at-Blankney-Estates-3

The relentless wet weather is likely to mean that more growers will be growing maize this season; either for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. Maize is a crop that needs careful management and seed treatments are an important part of that management that have seen some significant changes.

Most maize growers will be aware of the challenges we now face with the loss of the active ingredient methiocarb; best known as the seed treatment Mesurol. This seed treatment has for years provided class leading bird repellence, particularly against rook damage and other corvids, to the extent that some will have forgotten quite how damaging these pests can be. 

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Changing times in potato seed treatments

image1

Last autumn saw the withdrawal of Monceren DS, a powder potato seed treatment containing pencycuron. Many growers have relied on Monceren to control the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. Left untreated, this pathogen can cause crop-damaging symptoms such black scurf.

Despite the withdrawal of this specific product, the outlook is still good and includes a number of effective specialist liquid treatments. Many of the growers we advise have been moving away from powder treatments anyway with growers reporting concerns about powder formulations on belt planters where it can be difficult to get the dust formulation to stick and retain on tubers. 

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Market report - 5th February 2020

Grain-2

Following losses of 4% during the last third of January, around £2 per tonne has been added to world wheat prices since the market closed on Friday.

There is little fresh news to influence prices but wheat exports from the EU and Ukraine continue to move at a strong pace. EU exports climbed to 16.4 million tonnes by the 2nd February, compared to just 9.9 million tonnes at the same time last year. Despite strike action hindering logistics, French ports shipped their biggest volume of wheat for six years during January. 

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How did you start 2020?

myfarm

At this point of the year, I find that New Year's resolutions tend to have gone one of three ways. They are either still going strong (well done if that's you), have merely been forgotten about, or have fallen at the wayside because although you tried, one small blip meant you had to shelve it for next year so you can try again.

While I'm often in the group who start with the best of intentions but don't quite see them through, there is one 'resolution' that I simply haven't been able to ignore: adapting to change.

This year, food production is under pressure from many different angles and regardless of your view on the validity of change, we can be certain that UK agriculture will need to adjust in order to survive and thrive

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Market report - 29th January 2020

Grain-2

European wheat markets traded steadily lower this week in the wake of last Wednesday's global price spike. Many of the supportive factors remain in play, but uncertainty over US-China trade talks and nervousness surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak were enough to spark a round of fund selling in agricultural commodities, including Chicago wheat and corn. 

Data from Brussels put EU wheat exports 70% ahead of last year's pace and this looks set to continue, with French wheat currently the cheapest in the world. Despite this, Matif mirrored Chicago, trading €5 lower in the aftermath of last week's 17-month highs.

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Market report - 22nd January 2020

Grain-2

US, French and London wheat futures markets have all continued to rally this week, reaching highs not seen for almost a year and a half.

Following the signing of the 'phase one' trade deal last week, the US market is firmer as a result of expectations for export trade to China. Support there also comes from their export pace which is running 15% ahead of last year.

French wheat futures are higher on strong EU export demand which, at 15.7 million tonnes so far this season, is running 71% ahead of last year. The strike action that is crippling French export facilities is also creating a technical rise in French wheat futures as shorts try to buy back their positions in the nearby contract.

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