No spring yet: The past week put a halt to field work with between 1in and 2in of rain across the main tillage areas. Soil temperatures have begun to creep back up and are now generally between 8°C and 9°C across most of the country. This will help the crops that were sown in recent weeks and help to drive growth in winter cereals.
Beans: Demand for bean seed is reported to be slow in parts of the country.
There is still time to get this crop sown but it would be best done in the next week or two. If we do not keep good rotations going, our cereal yields will slip even further.
The benefits of a bean crop must be judged over the two following crops, as well as the crop itself. Lower nitrogen requirement and higher yield potential are among the benefits for any crop following beans. And it opens the door to premium crops like seed or gluten-free oats.
We are all aware of the spread of yields in some recent years but it is important to ask how many of the lower yields were a direct consequence of inadequate fertility, which is critical for this crop? Drought and high temperatures played a part but there were many good yields in those years too.
Get pH close to 7 and put some P and K into the seedbed, especially when sowing now, as the crop needs to stay growing once it gets going. The same applies to all spring crops – get fertiliser into the seedbed to drive early growth.
Planting: Get any remaining spring beans and wheat drilled as soon as possible, moving on to spring oats and malting barley. Once we are past St Patrick’s Day, it is important to have conditions right for planting. This may mean having to wait a little longer to begin when the forecast is good. Once the ground warms up it should dry out quicker.
Plant beans based on thousand seed weight at around 35 seeds/m2 – 175 to 210kg/ha (11-13 st/ac) with seed at 450g to 550g TGW.
Plant spring wheat at 320-350 seeds/m2 or 145-175kg/ha (9-11 st/ac) (45-50g TGW). Target oats at about 350-400 seeds/m2 – 125-150kg/ha for 35g seed (8-9 st/ac).
Check seed size to guide seeding rate to optimise seed cost.
Drill malting barley at 325-350 seeds/m2 – 145-160kg/ha (9.5-10 st/ac) for 45g TGW seed – aim to establish at least 300 plants/m2.
Herbicide-resistant wild oats: There are a number of instances where the control of wild oats in spring crops has been problematic in recent years and there are concerns about resistance to the main wild oat herbicides.
If you have such a field, your best option might be to apply Avadex Factor on to that field at 3.6l/ha pre-emerge. This is only for spring barley.
This might appear like a job you do not have time to do but a field full of uncontrollable wild oats could leave a crop unsaleable.
It is a safe place to start where there is a lot of uncertainty. If you think you might have herbicide resistance in any field, it is essential to rogue any survivors following the foliar spraying of other fields.