Now is the time for cereal growers to get on top of the challenges weeds and disease put on oilseed rape (OSR) and winter barley crops, according to Teagasc tillage specialist Tim O’Donovan.

“This year’s winter rape acreage is well down on the levels planted at the back end of 2013. Crops are looking well but there are indications that competition from weeds is already having an effect. Given that we are now in November, Kerb is a herbicide that works well under cooler conditions, the Teagasc advisor said.

“Light leaf spot is more prevalent within Irish rape crops than was previously thought to be the case. Growers should look out for phoma lesions and spray is greater than 20% of plants numbers are affected by the disease.”

Turning to winter barley, the Teagasc specialist confirmed that most crops had established well.

“Most tillage farmers are sowing barley this autumn in the wake of the new greening regulations. Due to the ongoing mild conditions the threat of BYDV attack has remained high. Crops should be strayed with an aphicide at the recommended rate.

“Included in the tank should be a herbicide mix to tackle broadleaf and grassland weeds. It is best to tackle this challenge now, rather than leave it to the Spring. The associated spray costs will be in the region of €30-40/ha.

“Slugs are also becoming a problem in lush winter cereal crops, particularly on wetter land. There is good evidence supporting trapping slugs as a method of targeting control. Trapping can start in before cultivations and following sowing of the crop. Post sowing trapping will give an indication of the slug numbers after the cultivations.

“Ploughing and other secondary cultivations will reduce slug populations on the surface but in many cases may not be sufficient to avoiding additional control,” the Teagasc advisor said.