Crop walking: Liquid N and bio-stimulants…nutrition is key

David Shortall is the agri-sales manager at Quinns of Baltinglass. This week he looked at winter crops in counties Wicklow, Kilkenny and Laois.

He noted that forward crops of winter barley are up to GS30, but some more ‘backward’ crops need a little bit of help along the way. Nutrition and bio-stimulants will play an important role this year.

“Up until this week, crops stood still for two to three weeks with that real hash weather. You would have expected them to move on further, but now looking at crops they seem to be moving by the day.”

He added that the majority of spring barley sowing is now complete across branches, with small areas to be planted in Co. Offaly. Spring oilseed rape, maize and beet are next on the agenda.

David was examining growth stages of crops this week. The majority of winter barley was at or approaching GS30, while some winter wheat crops were still at mid-tillering. Image source: David Shortall

Winter barley

Much of the winter barley David has seen has received its main split of nitrogen (N) during the week or will in the coming days.

Growth regulator will be applied in the coming days in the form of Sonis and CeCeCe. He added that a fungicide needs to be added to the mix. Cassia for example is weak on rhyncho and needs to be kept under control.

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“Where there’s volunteer barley it’s creating hotspots of rhyncho. Strong volunteer barley plants can cause damage as they are creating hotspots of disease.

The T1 on winter barley will be something like Macfare Xpro – prothioconazole + two SDHIs – or a Decoy/Comet mix. The T1 is always based around prothioconazole to suppress the threat of rhynchosporium threat.

“The risk of ramularia is high so in some cases we’ll include chlorothalonil as well. If it’s not included at this stage it will definitely be in the next spray.”

This crop of winter barley was clean from disease. A few weeds (groundsel) can be seen and will be tidied up shortly. Image source: David Shortall

Winter wheat

Winter wheat crops that David has been walking is varying from mid-tillering to GS30. The advanced crops have received their main split of nitrogen and will get a T0 of chlorothalonil in the coming days. A growth regulator programme of CeCeCe and Sonis will be used.

Image source: David Shortall

A large percentage of the winter wheat wasn’t sprayed in the autumn and where weeds need to be tidied up Broadway Star – for sterile brome and broad-leaved weeds, but not where annual meadow-grass is a problem – or Pacifica where annual meadow grass, sterile brome and other broad-leaved weeds are a problem.

David is also keeping an eye out for rust in Bennington and JB Diego. A strobilurin will be used where this is an issue.

Septoria on winter wheat. Image source: David Shortall

Liquid nitrogen

Quinns of Baltinglass recently became an agent for Omex which supplies liquid fertilisers.

David explained that liquid nitrogen is made up of urea, ammonium and nitrate, which results in a phased release of the nutrient. Sulphur (S) is also included and contains each droplet the same ratio of N:S. The image below shows nitrogen being applied to oilseed rape and has a ratio of 26:2.

There is no wastage as the product goes straight onto the crop – no fertiliser goes into the ditch.

“We have a number of growers who have used it on several different crops at this stage – winter wheat; winter barley; winter oats; and winter oilseed rape.

Anyone who has used it has been very happy. Obviously it has its advantages in that it’s extremely accurate and there’s very quick crop uptake.

“More and more people are interested in using it over the next few weeks on both winter crops and on spring cereals as well.”

Keeping plants healthy

As many winter crops are stressed David is placing an emphasis on plant health.

“We’re using a product called Incite which is a bio-stimulant and phosphite which helps with the nitrogen assimilation cycle.

“In cases where it’s needed, especially in those backward winter wheat crops where tiller numbers are low and the roots aren’t strong, we’re definitely using something like that [Incite] in combination with a trace element for a specific issue like manganese.”

David added that bio-stimulants have more of a role to play as we lose more active ingredients.

If you have a healthy crop you have a crop that has the potential to yield.

Winter oats and oilseed rape

Winter oat crops that David looked at are approaching GS30 and will receive a fungicide and a PGR in the next couple of days. Midas and Talius are David’s preferred options. He added that most people are holding back on the final application of nitrogen on winter oats until the end of next week, when it’s closer to GS32.

Winter oilseed rape is probably the one crop that came through the winter relatively unscathed in comparison to winter cereals.

Crops have received Juventus and Proline and are now at flowering.

“A lot of crops received their final nitrogen split last week at early flowering. In general crops look like they have good potential, but it’s always hard to say with oilseed rape until you get into the combine.”

A crop of winter oilseed rape coming into flower. Image source: David Shortall

Call and collect service for pesticides

Agronomist are presently not meeting with farmers, but David was keen to reassure customers that agronomists are still busy walking crops and information is being passed on through Farmflo, e-mail or phone.

Agronomists can leave the order with the local branch or farmers may phone the branch with their order and then collect the order at the store.

David added that a delivery service is also available for vulnerable people who should not leave their homes amid the current restrictions.

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