Early season establishment advice from the team at Kings Game Cover and Conservation Crops.
As days lengthen and temperatures rise, thoughts turn to planting stewardship features and game cover plots. These crops are best planted when the weather and soil conditions suit the crop; it's important not to be led by the date on the calendar.
Successful establishment needs ground temperatures consistently at 8 degrees C and good seed bed conditions.
Grass, nectar flower and wild flower mixtures are usually planted from mid April through to mid May. If ground conditions are still not suitable, then it's better to delay planting until August/early September. Far better to establish crops correctly first time than to end up re-drilling.
Wild bird seed mixtures and the majority of game cover crops should be planted from mid May into a fine, firm, warming seedbed. This is often later than growers expect but these crops need to establish quickly so they can grow away from pest and weed pressure. Sow too early and crops may struggle.
Remember to keep an eye out for slugs; we all know their numbers are up this year. Having already enjoyed eating autumn crops they will now be looking for new plants to feed on. Consider an early application of pellets, perhaps adding them to the seed bed application of fertiliser. Protecting your crop is important but remember, you must stay within Metaldehyde Stewardship Group levels.
Fertiliser is not optional
Crop nutrition is an essential element of success with these crops that is often overlooked. Grass, wild flower and nectar flower mixtures do not need additional nutrition but the same is not true for wild bird seed and game cover crops. Just as with cereal and oilseed crops, adequate and well timed fertiliser, combined with good agronomy are vital.
Careful management and investment now will help get your game cover and stewardship mixtures off to a great start this season.
For specific project advice call Kings technical helpline on 0800 587 9797 or visitwww.kingscrops.co.uk