It seems that ground conditions remain reasonable to good in most parts of the country following recent rain. Amounts were variable and ranged from 54.9mm on Sunday in Cork Airport to 2.3mm in Dublin Airport.
But up to Monday Cork Airport had only received 56.5% of its annual rainfall while Dublin Airport had received 64.2%.
Most tillage areas have received between 150mm and 200mm of rain since the start of September, and yet most ground is turning up in good condition – another benefit of being able to harvest in very dry conditions.
Most growers are now using plough/till/sow systems for planting. If drills can stay rolling, most of the intended winter planting will be completed this week.
Soil temperatures have dropped again and are now one or more degrees below normal for October, and 1.5-2°C lower than a week ago.
This will slow crop emergence and growth and magnify the risks from slugs and crows, which are now causing trouble in parts of the country.
Sowing continues around the country, mainly using plough and one-pass systems and it looks likely that there will still be further opportunities to plant.
However, colder soils make seedbeds less forgiving and we could shortly see springs breaking through to wet some ground.
It is important to push up seed rates now to compensate for the inevitability of lower establishment. Crows are already active in places and could become a bigger problem as temperatures drop towards freezing.
Slugs also seem to have multiplied considerably in the recent wet weeks, and they are likely to become more troublesome as growth rates slow. It is important to apply slug pellets where they are active.
Product options include Axcela, Metarex Inov, Traxx, Slugtox, Destroyer etc.
Assuming 90% establishment (that is optimistic), you would need to plant winter barley at around 400 seeds/m2 (200kg/ha for 50g seed) to establish 350 plants and sow hybrids at 100 to 110kg/ha to establish at least 180 plants/m2.
Plant wheat at between 170 to 180kg/ha to establish over 300 plants/m2 with 50g seed and 90% establishment. Plant oats at around 150-170kg/ha (35g-40g seed) depending on seed size to establish 350 plants/m2.
With some crops now pushing to the 7-8-leaf stage, growth regulation should be considered using either Caryx or some of the triazole fungicides.
Caryx should only be used in the autumn on very forward and uniform crops. Apply at up to 1.4 l/ha before GS19 (9 leaves) with a follow-up application in spring.
A forward crop is defined as a crop that has the potential to grow to more than 25cm tall by the end of autumn.
Less forward crops might be sprayed with fungicide for light leaf spot or phoma control. Apply triazoles like tebuconazole, prothioconazole or metconazole, or combinations of these.
Generally half rate is adequate for disease control and this also gives some PGR. Higher rates give a greater growth regulation effect – avoided this on backward crops.