Late-sown spring barley crops will require treatment with herbicide to knock out weeds over the coming days.

That is according to Teagasc tillage advisor Marianne Mulhall, who recommended adding aphicide to the herbicide spray tank to avoid aphid attack.

“The recent rain came at the right time for these crops, as moisture stress was becoming a real issue.

But the return of the rain has also encouraged weed growth. It’s important to get this challenge under control as quickly as possible.

The Kilkenny-based advisor said that early-sown spring barley crops are now at Growth Stage 30.

“These crops should receive their first fungicide spray now. Mildew is an issue in many parts of the country this year. And growers should consider adding a mildewcide into the spray tank, where the problem exists.”

Mulhall also said that “easily-identifiable” rust disease is an issue in a number of cereal crops this year.

“Crops will turn a characteristic brown colour. Where the problem exists, an appropriate fungicide should be used. Stobilurins are particularly effective against rust.”

Where winter wheat is concerned, Muhall said that most crops have now reached Growth Stage 32, flag leaf emergence.

“The fungicides used at this stage will pay the greatest dividend in terms of crop yield and margin improvement,” she said.

“But it’s important to wait until the flag leaf has fully emerged before the spray is applied. Teagasc work indicates that a flag leaf fungicide spray, if properly applied, can improve grain yields by up to 1.7t/ha.”

According to Mulhall, most winter crops are looking well at the present time.

She said: “Plant numbers are exceptionally high this year. And disease pressure has been extremely low over recent weeks.

“But that will change with the return to more showery conditions. It’s important that all remaining disease control spraying operations are fit-for-purpose.”