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Combine harvester harvesting winter barley

Technical Crop Update: Summer 2022

The growing season of 2021/2022 will live long in the memory of cereal growers. Coming off the back of the best harvest in a generation in 2021 where we had the magic mix of yield, price and weather, much needed faith was restored into our sector. All stakeholders were filled with a renewed sense of optimism and reassurance as to why it is we do what we do for a living and ultimately a way of life.

2022 started with a sense of trepidation as input prices began to soar with fertiliser increasing up to 300% on the back of record natural gas prices, a key input in Nitrogen fertiliser manufacturing. However much has happened over the course of the season. The outbreak of war in Ukraine has had a seismic effect on the global grain market, with one of the world’s largest producers and exporters effectively unable to trade. This massive hole in the global supply chain coupled with the subsequent sanctions on Russia has seen global grain markets soar to record levels. Despite the high input prices, we arrive on the cusp of the harvest in a situation where there has never been a greater demand for our grain. This can only be positive for the sector. We can only control what goes on inside our own farm gate and as a result, all we can do is try and produce as high yielding and high-quality crops as possible. Irish growers are some of the best in the world and as long as the weather plays ball with us, hopes are high for another good harvest off the back of last year.

 

Crop Update

On a local and national level, disease pressure, grass and resistant weed issues along with the growing threat of BYDV have created many challenges for our 2022 crops. It is always important to reflect on the current condition of crops and assess what worked and what didn’t work in 2022.

 

Winter Barley 

Winter barley will be the first crop to go under the knife and will probably come in a week or so earlier than normal. It has been a challenging season for winter barley crops. The mild winter of 2021 has increased the risk of BYDV infection in crops, along with increased pressure from earlier sowing slots. Crops that were sprayed up to 3 times with insecticide are still showing signs of viral infection, clearly displaying the reduced efficacy of our insecticide tool box. Later sowing dates, plant breeding through resistant varieties, encouragement of beneficial insects in the population and new interesting work being done on manipulation of nitrate levels in the leaf, will all prove important mitigation tools in future seasons.

Some crops are also compromised by rotation slot, with those sowed after heavy winter wheat crops in 2021 exhibiting some symptoms of Take-All. Winter barley after break crops looks significantly better.

Crops also suffered from the cold spring from late March into early April. This saw a lot of tiller death in winter barley as crops struggled for nutrients and had poor nitrogen uptake. Crops looked thin for a long time but as the weather improved, crops have bulked up a lot. They may not be as barn busting as last year, however they will still return decent yields and considering current grain prices, they will leave a decent margin.

The main varieties to look for in 2023:

  • Joyau(BYDV Tolerant).
  • KWS Tardis.
  • Valerie.
  • Belfry.

Winter Barley

 

Winter Oilseed Rape

Winter rape could be the crop of 2021. In contrast to winter barley, the weather has suited rape all the way along and crops look to have fantastic potential. The prolonged flowering period of upwards of 6 weeks have seen excellent pod set on rape crops with good seed fill in the pods themselves.

The main commercial variety is Ambassador and looks excellent. It is a hybrid variety suitable for later sowing, has Turnip Yellow virus resistance and has an anti-pod shatter gene. The market for rape is strong at the moment and even though it has slipped slightly from record levels a few weeks ago, it will easily surpass any previous harvest prices. It looks like an excellent break crop option for 2023 with the current market prices available and the continued conflict in Ukraine a key world producer of vegetable oils helping to underpin prices.

Rape also presents a good opportunity to get on top of difficult grass weeds such as wild oats, sterile brome and ryegrass. There is no known resistance to propyzamaide and anyone with grass weed issues should consider rape as a break crop in their rotation. Now is a good time for desiccation and crops should be sprayed off when 2/3 of the seeds in the pods on the main raceme have turned from green to brown.

Oilseed rape

 

Winter Wheat 

Winter wheat crops look to have great potential for the coming harvest. The two main varieties for 2022 are mainly Graham with some Costello in the mix too.

The loss of Chlorothalonil was seen as a possible death knell for winter wheat production in Ireland, however that doesn’t seem to be the case as of yet. The addition of two new chemicals, Revystar and Innotrek have seen Septoria control brought to a new level. So much so, that many crops have three to four clean leaves still at this stage of the growing season.

First wheats again are a must with the odd second wheat showing signs of Take-All in places. BYDV is evident in some crops but does not look to be significant. As always, the later sown mid-October crops look to have the greatest potential.

Winter wheat update

 

Spring Barley 

Spring barley, our flagship crop, looks to have great potential again this year. Crops sown early have good plant stands, have went through a mainly dry flowering period and look to be filling well. The main variety sown is Planet, with some Gangway, Geraldine and a new variety Mermaid in the mix. Cooney Furlong will again be assembling Planet and Gangway for food grade purposes. Crops were sowed in great conditions at the end of March and seemed to get just the right amount of moisture when it was needed most. As a result, crops are thick and very bulky with growth regulators having to be employed on most crops at the onset of stem extension. The harvest will probably be a week earlier than normal as crops were sowed early and are well developed.

Weed control seems to be better than last year with more favourable temperatures at spraying timings this year. The resistant wild oat issue remains but growers with problems are taking action to mitigate the problem such as switching to pre emergence herbicides and a more varied crop rotation.

Spring barley field

 

Winter and Spring Oats 

The two main varieties, Husky and Isabel dominate the landscape again with Husky probably proving the tougher variety for winter sowing. As both are spring varieties sown in the winter, hardiness is a key attribute required. Crops look good in general with good panicle size and grain numbers per panicle with a few blind grains. The addition of boron zinc and manganese to the crop nutrition programme seem to have enhanced grain quality and yield in the last few years.

Rust and mildew are the two key diseases affecting oats and both have surfaced this year, especially mildew in spring oat crops. The loss of Corbel and Opus from the chemical toolbox will make control of rust and mildew a key concern in the coming seasons. Crop nutrition will play a key role in helping to mitigate disease threat in future seasons.

Field of winter oats

 

Spring Beans and Spring Wheat 

Spring beans look to have great potential this year as they have received rainfall at regular intervals. Beans need plenty of moisture to reach their yield potential and have grown into very heavy crops with good pod set and hopefully good pod fill. The main commercial variety is Lynx.

Disease control has been more challenging this year with the loss of chlorothalonil for chocolate spot and Ridomil Gold for downy mildew. Again, the rotation is key to beans with crops doing best when sowed no more than one in six in the rotation.

Spring wheat has come back into vogue slightly this year with the tillage incentive scheme seeing some livestock farmers plough up leys in order to plant a cereal crop. The two main varieties are Talisker and Duncan and crops look to have decent potential.

 

Summary

The main crops look to have great potential this year and we look forward to a successful harvest again. Despite record input prices, grain prices have risen to record levels and the prospect of near-record crop margins is a high possibility.

From all the Cooney Furlong Grain team, we would like to thank our customers for the continued support throughout the year and we wish you all a successful and safe harvest.

 

Further Information

To view more articles from our Summer Newsletter, please click here.

 

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Technical Crop Update: Summer 2021

Author: George Blackburn, Sales Manager  

 

As another crop protection season draws to a close, our attention now turns towards harvest and making assessments of the current condition of crops.

Due to the prolonged cold spells and big fluctuations between day and night-time temperatures, 2021 has been one of the most difficult and challenging seasons for crop protection and particularly spraying itself. The spring began and stayed cold well into April, making herbicide and growth regulation particularly difficult on some of the winter crops, especially oats. It also contributed to reduced efficacy of chemistry and very late germination of weeds post-application of contact herbicides.

Grass weeds were a particular challenge in winter cereals, with Sterile Brome beginning to rear its head in winter barley again, something that has not been an issue in recent seasons. Grass weeds like Brome, Canary Grass, Annual Meadow Grass and Wild Oats are providing an agronomic challenge that requires immediate attention and more stringent management protocols.

The addition of some new chemistry to the toolbox on wheat this year proved a saving grace as many spray intervals were delayed later. That said, the new actives in Questar and Revystar appear to have performed very well in the field, with Septoria control very satisfactory.

 

Winter Wheat:

wheat

The two main winter wheat varieties sown by customers were Graham and Costello and both have been performed well on most agronomic characteristics such as disease and especially Septoria and Yellow Rust.

The 2021 season has suited wheat as the prolonged cold spell prevented too much Septoria inoculum building up in the base of crops and transferring up the canopy when the rain came in May. The slow spring also allowed for steady canopy development, which is ideal for yield formation and crops never turned into the dreaded “silage” stage which can happen with rapid growth in early April. Wheat seems to have a very good grain set with the cold spring setting an extra grain or two on the ear. Crops flowered a week later than normal but the timing was ideal as it missed most of the heavy rain which can be a major source of Fusarium inoculum at flowering.

Crops have a lot of potential, and provided they don’t run out of moisture, bumper yields could be recorded. One lesson we did learn this year is the early sowing in difficult or heavy land is a must and outweighs the risk of BYDV to ensure proper establishment. Graham seems to be suitable for early drilling and is definitely something to bear in mind for the upcoming autumn campaign.

Spring Barley:

There has been huge variation in sowing date and soil type for our flagship crop, barley. Crops sown in March that had enough sap to push on once germinated have handled the cold and subsequent wet conditions that came afterwards. Crops sowed earlier, tillered out and developed a good canopy which allowed them to handle some of the heavy rainfall in mid-May.

Many barley crops have faced challenges this year in terms of establishment, weed and disease control. Crops that were not as advanced and may have had some underlying compaction or soil fertility issues, especially on headlands, have suffered badly. The heavy rain and easterly wind stressed crops to the point where tillers were aborted and growth was stunted to an extent that yield will be compromised.

Despite this, the story is largely a positive one as there are some fantastic crops out there, which could produce yields from 2-4 tonne to the acre this harvest and everywhere in between. Growers that did good quality work in the spring and minded crops well in terms of plant nutrition and good disease control programmes will be rewarded.

Spring barley field

 

Winter Barley:

Winter barley is coming to the end of grain fill and looks to have more potential than looked possible earlier in the season. Grain numbers are good per ear and crops are clean of disease and look to be filling well. The cold spring did not suit winter barley, as many crops never bulked up to the extent that they usually do.

The 6 rows look to have an edge in terms of vigour and seem to have coped with difficult growing conditions better as would be expected. The new 6-row conventional variety, Joyau is performing particularly well in the field and it will be interesting to see how it performs over the weighbridge in 4-5 weeks’ time. The BYDV tolerant gene could be a breakthrough for winter barley growers in the years ahead, however, grain quality must stack up with established varieties. It won’t matter how good it is against BYDV if it cannot meet the spec requirements of end-users.

2-row barley crops struggled in the cold spring, however, they look to be making a late run. The variety, Valerie looks to be performing particularly well, with a very good head on it.

 

Spring Beans:

beans

Beans have relished the moisture in May and are in stark contrast to the sad drought-stricken crops in May 2020. Crops are lush, vibrant and look to have potential. First fungicides have been applied and rotation is again flagging up as a key determinant to disease pressure risk. Any crop sowed back to beans in the last 5 years as opposed to the ideal 1 in 7, is showing increased levels of downy mildew, which is something to keep an eye on in the future.

 

Winter and Spring Oats:

Field of winter oats

Both winter and spring oats look to be very well and have good, sized panicles. The cool weather suits oats crops and those that received good programmes should do well.

A lot of winter oat crops have suffered from a combination of frost and growth regulator damage around the country but luckily we don’t appear to have any of these issues with our grower base. Attention to spray timings and good foliar nutrition paid off on oats this year no doubt.

 

Oilseed Rape:

oilseed rape

Oilseed rape has a good pod set after a very long flowering period. Rape could be an attractive option for autumn 2021 as forward prices are attractive and the crop provides an excellent break option.

Rape will allow you to get on top of problem grass weeds in fields that are exhibiting resistance or enhanced metabolism to standard chemical treatments for grass weed control in winter and spring cereals. Propyzmaide (Kerb) found in Kerb and Astrokerb has no known resistance to grass weeds and could become a key IPM strategy for weed control in future.

Rape also offers an opportunity to spread the workload at harvest and with the new straw chopping scheme, growers may find it easier to get it established in a timely fashion.

 

Summary:

In summary, crops look to be good on the whole and with harvest prices looking promising, I wish all our growers a successful and safe harvest and would like to thank them for their support throughout the year.

 

Note for growers:

The Cooney Furlong Grain Company will be purchasing food grade barley this year with premiums paid on certain varieties this harvest. If you have potential food grade barley, we request that you do not spray a crop of spring barley with glyphosate. Read more here. 

 

Further Information: 

To view more articles from our summer newsletter, please click here.

tractor mowing grass silage

Maximising Grass and Silage Growth

Over the past number of weeks, we have experienced very little grass growth due to a 75mm soil moisture deficit. Growth rates in this area dropped to around 30kg DM/ha which led to a lot of animals receiving a buffer feed. Luckily, we have got a welcome dash of rain over the past few days which in the presence of available nutrients has brought growth levels back up to 90kg DM/ha. As we are all starting from low farm covers, we need to maximise growth to deal with the recent shortfall of grass production. First cut silage has also been affected by drought conditions with 25-30% reduction in yields being reported locally. The quality of this first cut silage should be very good and most crops were saved in great conditions.

Grazing ground

Nitrogen N

Paddocks that have received nitrogen in the past few weeks should take this up now. Fields that have not been spread for over 3 to 4 weeks should get nitrogen immediately. The increased growth after the rain should enable 2 units a day to be taken up.

Phosphorous P

P is a key driver of growth, root development, and grass tillering. Available P will help stressed plants recover and promote water and nutrient uptake. In addition, it will promote grass tiller development to help swards recover after the dry spell. Therefore, apply low to medium rates of P in your next fertiliser application. Low index soils will require larger amounts of P depending on when they last received it. Earlier spring applications of P in low index ground will need to be topped up at this stage as P is locked up in these soils.

Potassium K

K has a major role to play in the uptake and regulation of water within the plant. Now more than ever sufficient levels of soil available and applied K will be essential for the plants to withstand drought and aid rapid recovery. K at sufficient levels will keep good quality leaf in the grass and stop it from droughting out, pushing up a seed head and going to stem. Stem has one third less feed value to the cow as green leaf.

Sulphur S

Sulphur increases the efficiency of N uptake which is very important at this time of the year. Sulphur aids in plant protein production and therefore grass that has sulphur will remain higher in protein and retain feeding quality later into the season. Sulphur should be a part of all fertiliser applications. In most cases an application of a compound containing N P K S will be the best solution to get farm covers back up where they need to be. Take the full advantage of the growth while we have it to build up much needed reserves.

Silage ground

The present damp dull weather makes it ideal for slurry applications. Most slurry spread during the dry spell will have lost all its nitrogen content. It is important to know your offtake when it comes to spreading your second cut silage, with each tonne of dry matter removing 25 kg (20 units) of N, 4 kg (3 units) of P, 25 kg (20 units) of K and 4 kg (3 units) of S. In low index P we must add 10 kg (8 units) per index lower than 3 and in low index K 30 kg (24 units) per index lower than 3. In general, we are low in sulphur so as a rule of thumb it is best apply 15 to 20 units per acre for your second cut. A 3 tonne DM/ha crop on an index 3, 3 will take 75N 12P 75K and 12 to 15 S out of your soil.

 

July Newsletter

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