Lot of work done: The long spell of dry but cold weather has helped to get planting up to date but made life a bit more awkward for all those with spraying to do.
Dryness may continue but temperatures look set to increase.
The harsh dry weather could precipitate micronutrient deficiencies so try and get in ahead of symptoms.
Symptoms mean lost yield potential, which is not fully recovered by treatment.
The same harsh conditions are causing problems with establishment in some later-sown fields and crows and leather-jackers are adding to the difficulties.
Nitrogen: Spring crops, especially malting barley, should have total N applied by the two- to three-leaf stage. Try to apply N close to rain to get it washed in quickly. Total N application rates will range from 120 to 150kg N/ha depending on the rotation, distilling etc.
Early N on feed barley, wheat and oats is less urgent where there is plenty N in the seedbed.
With other crops, adjust total N to the intended crop use, the field and the rotation. Bring feed barley up to 140-160kg/ha, wheat up to 140-170kg/ha and oats to 100-125kg N/ha. Reduce these rates where soil N may be higher and use the higher end on worn ground.
Plant protection: The past two weeks have been awkward in terms of spraying due to the cold conditions with frost at night. While growers picked timings to minimise risk, some scorching is evident.
Others opted to hold off on risky products, especially herbicides and growth regulators, until conditions improved.
Growth stages are variable and this will influence fungicide and PGR timing on individual fields. Some winter barley crops have received their first fungicide while others are being sprayed now.
Apply T1 fungicides on wheat when the third-last leaf is fully emerged – dissect the plant to see how many leaves remain to emerge. If the third-last leaf is emerged, the second-last will be partly out.
T1 sprays on wheat might be products like Elatus Era, Revystar, Ascra, Adexar, Lentyma etc. Alternatively, use an SDHI or Inatreq with prothioconazole. All sprays need to have folpet added. Oat crops might be treated with Elatus Era.
Straw chopping: Early indications suggest that many cereal growers will not fully avail of the straw incorporation measure. This is correct for all those with an annual market for straw, but your land still needs organic matter to help keep it productive. It is also important to remember that this is the first time that cereal growers have been offered direct support from Government and to not avail of it fully might send out the wrong message. Suggestions for chopping can be withdrawn up to 9 June.
Markets: Grain markets currently provide opportunity to consider selling some grain forward. Dry prices of up to €215/t for wheat, €205 for barley and €480/t for rape may not last.