In the middle of spring malting barley country there were good and excellent crops to see, some losing colour in colder weather conditions, but many with potential and numerous management decisions that need to be well thought out.

The Irish Farmers Journal visited crops with Martin McDonald of Stradbally Town and Country across Co Laois last Friday 7 June. A cold wind was blowing and the harsher weather of the previous few days was evident in the fields.

That said there were some super crops with great potential, but some deficiencies and stress had started to appear in crops.

Magnesium deficiency was clear in many crops. This was in patches within fields which may have differed in management in the past, but also where there was compaction at sowing. Where machinery had travelled on wetter ground, it was showing up and it’s unclear if an application of magnesium would overcome this problem. Yes, it will certainly help, but some damage has been done. Liquiplex Magnesium at 1l/ha was advised in some fields. On some other stressed spring barley crops Delfan will be applied. It’s a foliar organic nitrogen product and may help to boost those crops.

Winter wheat which only received digestate. it did not receive any artificial fertiliser.

Martin’s conclusion was that nutrition needs to be applied before the symptoms occur. If a symptom is visible and a leaf is pale then less photosynthesis is occurring, so prevention is essential.

Weed control in spring barley was excellent. Problem weeds like chickweed were treated with Pixxaro. That relatively new active is doing a much better job on resistant chickweed than Galaxy he noted as the fluroxypyr level just isn’t high enough in that product.

Spring beans with good weed control and very little bean weevil damage. Small pic.

In some beet crops, which were walked the week previous, poppies have not been controlled, as they have built up resistance and while we saw very good control of meadow grass in winter wheat with a late application of Pacifica, resistance was also evident with a small number of plants alive beside those that were controlled.


There was plenty of BYDV in crops. Winter wheat was really starting to show the effects of the virus with strong yellow patches. However, it was spring barley which was where most action was and while crops were sprayed with aphicide, the virus was visible with individual leaves affected and leaves tipped with yellow. This is evident across the country and is becoming very frustrating for farmers.

Spring barley which received fungicide with the weed spray. 1

In some fields infection levels were worse than others. We can’t say that BYDV was lower because of one thing or another, but walking through many fields of barley there were lower levels in fields, which got nutrition early and crops were healthier. For example, Uplift which is a mix of nutrients was applied to one crop which appeared to have lower levels of infection.

There was also noticeably less infection in fields which may have had less products in the tank at the herbicide application. For example, where a wild oat spray was not included in the mix there looked to be less infection. So maybe the lower level of products in a tank mix was a help to reduce stress on a plant. However, there also looked to be lower infection where a fungicide was applied with the weed spray, which added to the tank mix.

Disease control

Net blotch was the main disease of concern with Planet, the dominant variety in the area. However, we did not see any fields with very bad infection. Those crops with small levels of net blotch present were due a spray as soon as possible to keep infection at bay.

Spring barley with the second last leaf almost emerged and the flag leaf emerging.

One of the best spring barley crops we saw received its herbicide spray, along with Protendo (prothioconazole) and LS Pyrac (pyraclastrobin) on 24 May. That crop remains clean and the second last leaf was emerging, so is unlikely to need another fungicide until the final spray when awns are emerging.

Most crops were due a fungicide last week or this week. The T1 Martin was applying was mainly Innox and Comet. This is prothioconazole and pyraclostrobin. In some cases where crops are advanced he may apply folpet to try and prevent ramularia.

Net blotch on a crop of spring barley which may receive Delfan with a fungicide of Innox and Comet. 2

Looking ahead to T2s and Martin has been weighing up costs. Balaya plus Imperis is slightly on the higher side, but might be a good option on some of the better crops, while Mandarin will be the cheaper option.

Disease levels will be assessed at the time and folpet added to the mix.

Growth regulator

Most crops received an application of CeCeCe this year and it was showing with a good stand. You could feel it under your feet where CeCeCe was applied as the crop was thicker and stronger. This may help to reduce protein levels in the grain later in the season.

With more cold weather in the forecast, Martin was keeping away from a second application of growth regulator.

He is not a big fan of the practice on spring barley, so the cold temperatures made it an easy decision.

However, he said he will see if something needs to be applied before the flag leaf emerges in fields where there may be a wait on a contractor for a combine as Planet is susceptible to straw breakdown.

Winter wheat grown without artificial fertiliser

A field of Graham winter wheat in some tougher fields on higher ground was a picture. Low in disease and a healthy colour it was surprising to hear that the crop had received no artificial fertiliser.

It had been fed solely on digestate. Paddy McMahon in Ballyroan has an anaerobic digester on his farm.

Paddy McMahon looking at his crop of beans with Martin mcDonald of Stradbally Town and Country with Paddy's anaerobic digester in the background.

He takes in food waste and has maize and beet growing to feed the digester. That digestate then goes back onto land to grow crops. Paddy uses it on his own farm, but local farmers also collect digestate.

The wheat had received approximately 140 units of nitrogen, 16 units of phosphorus and 34 units of potassium per acre.

A tank was brought to the field and the digestate was spread with an umbilical system which hardly marked the field. The nutrients in the digestate are 70-80% available. The wheat looked really well. It appeared less stressed than some and while it wasn’t extremely thick it had good yield potential. The potassium level was a bit low, but the crop wasn’t suffering as a result.

There was virus appearing in some of it, as there was in other crops.

The field is surrounded by trees, so it wasn’t a surprise.

It was impressive to see the crop and to say no artificial fertiliser had been used. At the same time food waste had been taken in and energy produced from the biomethane. A circular economy at its best.

This wheat was starting to flower along with other crops we saw. Jade (prothioconazole and tebuconazole) at 1l/ha will be applied.


Beans were flying. Weed control was excellent from the pre-emergence herbicide applied. There was very little evidence of damage or notching from bean weevils and no disease present. Flowers were expected to emerge in the coming days and a fungicide will be applied at this time. Another viewing is likely before then but the treatment is expected to be Cobalt fungicide at 0.75kg/ha.

A crop of spring barley which received Uplift which is a mix of nutrients at the weed spray. It appeared to have less BYDV. 3

A late sown crop of spring barley after ley. Small pic.

Graham winter wheat was beginning to flower.

Some resistance to Pacifica was showing. Small pic or leave out.