The prolonged rainfall experienced over the last number of weeks has significantly hampered the efforts of growers across the country to plant winter cereals.

Overview

The prolonged rainfall experienced over the last number of weeks has significantly hampered the efforts of growers across the country to plant winter cereals. Rainfall has been well above average for this time of the year with most fields close to capacity or saturated at this stage. The loss of the seed treatment ‘Redigo Deter’ this autumn meant that growers had to start their sowing campaign later due to increased threat of aphid damage. This had a knock on effect with almost no planting taking place before the weather broke in early October.

The percentage of winter cereals planted nationally differs greatly depending on location. Current estimations suggest that approximately only 30% of the winter cereal acreage has been planted in the North East, 40% to 50% in areas such as Cork with very few areas such as South Tipperary closer to 80-85% planted. Even in areas where closer to average winter cereal acreages have been planted; many growers have had to abandon certain fields, especially on heavier land due to poor ground conditions and the risk of poor crop establishment. Winter Barley seems to occupy most of the area planted to winter cereals so far with an amount of winter wheat and winter oats also planted in certain areas.

Autumn Crop Management

Due to cold ground temperatures along with saturated soils, crop emergence has slowed drastically over the past number of weeks. Increased seeding rates are critical this autumn to ensure crops reach desired plant populations due to poorer establishment levels along with the threat of attack from crows and slugs. Crops should be monitored closely for slug attack, especially in high-risk situations such as crops planted into cloddy seedbeds or cereals sown after crops such as oilseed rape. Seed hollowing and grazing of emerged leaves are the two main threats from slug attack for crops planted. Slug bait points should be placed in fields and checked regularly to monitor slug populations. If the population present is deemed a risk to the crop, it is advisable to apply pellets to reduce the slug population. Crows are also an issue in some crops, especially in areas of fields where seeds may have been left uncovered.

The application of herbicides for weed control in winter cereals along with an aphicide is also a major challenge this autumn for crops that have been planted. In the case of winter barley, annual meadow grass control is relatively restricted to products which should be used at either the pre- emergence or early post- emergence stage of the crop in the autumn. Once ground conditions allow, growers should prioritise applying a herbicide to winter barley along with an aphicide once the crop has reached the 2 to 3 leaf stage in the event of a crop not receiving a pre- emergence herbicide. Herbicide options for winter barley will mainly be based on Flufenacet mixtures such as Firebird/ Fence type products, Pendimethalin mixtures such as Flight/ Tower/ Stomp Aqua or Prosulfocarb mixtures such as Defy/ Roxy.

Most winter wheat crops, especially later sown crops, will probably not receive an autumn herbicide this season and will instead receive a spring treatment to control meadow grass along with broad-leaved weeds. Spring herbicides for broad-spectrum weed control in winter wheat include Alister Flex or Pacifica Plus. In all crops, it is advisable to monitor for aphids and apply an aphicide such as Ninja or Karis if necessary where or when ground conditions permit.

In the event that we get a settled spell of weather, it is now probably too late to consider planting winter barley without the possibility of a negative impact on yield. In the case of winter wheat, an opportunity may arise to get further planting completed over the coming weeks and growers should prioritise the planting of wheat in better slots in a rotation such as first wheats after a break crop such as oilseed rape, beans or maize. Oats may still be planted providing seedbed conditions are adequate for good establishment.

For more information, please contact your local Glanbia Ireland Agronomist, branch or visit www.glanbiaconnect.com.