Cold snap is just what winter cereals need

A good cold snap will help slow down growth rates in all winter sown cereals, according to Teagasc tillage advisor Conor Dobson.

This is just what we need; all winter wheat and barley crops have established well, he said.

“The problem with excessive growth levels at this time of the year is the fact that cereals are predisposed to disease attack.

“The cooler conditions that we have seen over the past few days will help make crops more winter hardy. It will also serve to reduce slug numbers.”

Dobson also said that the coming days will see the 2016 potato harvest wrapped up, which will pave the way for the final winter wheat planting of the season.

The Drogheda-based advisor said that getting herbicide sprayed on winter cereals is now a priority for growers.

Ground conditions are holding up well, so there should be no real hindrance placed in the way of growers trying to get out with sprayers over the coming days.

“This is the last year in which growers can use IPC herbicides on winter crops. So the message to farmers is pretty clear: use up whatever stocks of IPC that are on farm now!”

GM field trials

Meanwhile, Rothamsted Research in the UK has sought permission to carry out GM field trials on wheat varieties that can carry out photosynthesis more efficiently.

This trait has the potential to result in higher yielding plants. The plan is to carry out the work in 2017 and 2018. The purpose of the proposed trial is to evaluate the performance of the engineered plants in the field.

Traditional breeding and agronomic approaches have maximised light capture and allocation to the grain.

A promising but as yet-unexploited route to increase wheat yields is to improve the efficiency by which energy in the form of light is converted to wheat biomass. The efficiency of the process of photosynthesis integrated over the season is the major determinant of crop yield.