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Spearhead winter wheatThe majority of winter cereals have been sown at this stage. However, there is still a small acreage to be sown in the coming weeks. As we progress into mid-November, the opportunities to get a window of dry weather for sowing decreases.

It is important to avail of the first opportunity that presents itself. Establishment rates for winter cereals sown in November will be anywhere from 65-70%, and will decrease by 5% each week later. Wheat sown in November will suffer a yield penalty over October-sown wheat, as lower soil temperatures will result in slower emergence. Employ high seeding rates; for wheat aim for 350 plants/m2, barley 310 plants/m2 and oats 340 plants/m2. If target yields are to be achieved then calculating the correct seeding rates and sowing into good soil conditions is vital, ‘well sown is half grown’. Remember to consider thousand grain weights when calculating seed rates.

aphid on winter wheatWinter cereal crops, depending on sowing date, are at risk from the impact of aphids. Aphids are responsible for the infection and spread of BYDV (barley yellow dwarf virus). BYDV can reduce yield by 15-30% in wheat crops and 50-75% in barley crops. Due to the increased concern all farmers are advised to assess all crops but especially early sown crops for the risk of BYDV. BYDV thrives in early drilled crops and warm weather. Crops sown in September may require two aphicides to keep them under control. In the absence of a neonicotinoid seed dressing and the increased incidence of pyrethroid resistance aphicide application timings must be correct and applied at the correct growth stage. This year, we welcome the new aphicide Transform. This will provide good resistance management in cases where two aphicides are needed, allowing us to alternate chemistry at the two timings. The spraying threshold for aphids is referred to as the 170 degree rule, which is where the accumulated daily temperatures after crop emergence reach 170 degrees.

  • September sown crops (high risk) apply treatment at the two leaf stage
  • Middle of October sown crops (medium- high risk) apply treatment in early November at 2-3 leaf stage.
  • Crops emerging after mid-November (low-risk) do not require treatment unless weather is mild and aphids are present or field has a history of aphid problems.

slug on cropsSlugs can cause serious damage to all winter cereal crops. Slugs significantly damage crops by hollowing the grain especially in wheat and the grazing of the young plants which can lead to total crop loss.The best control of slugs in winter cereals is achieved by applying slug pellets as a broadcast treatment of 30-40 slug pellets/m2 onto the soil surface as soon after sowing as possible. A second application may be needed in high risk slots (after oilseed rape or where straw was chopped as part of the scheme) or where slug pressure is still high.

Oilseed rape crops are quite forward in terms of growth due to a mild October. PGR and fungicide should be considered now and will help to suppress growth and to provide protection against light leaf spot and phoma. Apply trace elements in the tank mix, particularly boron and magnesium. Pigeons tend not to land where there is a dense canopy in the autumn.


soil testingNever has it been more important to get your soils tested for nutrient content, with the ongoing talks of the scarcity and rising costs of fertilizer. Knowing what nutrients are surplus/adequate/deficient allows you to save costs on fertiliser and apply only what the soil needs.
Drummonds can carry out soil testing, soil mapping and variable rate lime spreading on your farm and advise you on best strategy for your soil and your farm based on your soil testing results.

Applying a liquid feed to root systems in the autumn would be a smart investment this year. Driving root development will play a key part in capturing all of the available nutrients to the crop and allow for an optimal return on your fertiliser investment. We have products available at Drummonds to encourage a bigger root system, which will also be beneficial later in the growing season if drought occurs. A deep, wide root system captures more water and nutrients to cope with stressful conditions.

 Consult your local Drummonds Agronomist for further information.