Good weather means non-stop planting progress

Planting potatoes in Lincolnshire ©Tim Scrivener

Amazingly, most growers seem to have had a straightforward planting time.

Some halted for a week early April. Otherwise it has been non-stop, and this by mid May we should see the last seed crops planted on the Wolds.

Soil conditions have generally been very good, although some heavier soils have required a little extra work after ploughing over wet and then drying rapidly in the cold easterly wind.

Interestingly, whilst there has been a cool wind, soil temperatures have remained good, with emergence so far taking 4-5 weeks.

The dry weather will bring some challenges regarding herbicide choice and efficacy.

Actives like prosulfocarb, pendimethalin and aclonifen are not particularly soluble and, therefore, not as reliable in dry conditions.

The view I have taken while it is dry is to use metribuzin +/- clomazone where cleavers and bindweed might be a problem, along with a PPO-inhibitor or glyphosate, where applicable, in the knowledge that I will have to come back post-emergence with some rimsulfuron.

There is some useful, up to date metribuzin sensitivity information available from the various manufacturers.

Early-planted crops in Cheshire are emerging well and growing away nicely.

I will soon need to start thinking about blight sprays, but with the current dry weather, I am not getting too excited.

As always, product choice will be tailored to weather conditions, weather forecast, and crop growth stage.

Currently, there seems to be a huge amount of talk around the use of biostimulants, biopesticides, foliar feeds etc. So much so that it is difficult to see the wood for the trees.

In my opinion, it is all well and good looking at some lovely pictures in a glossy brochure with a nice graph telling you that using product X increased yield by Y.

It might well have done, but where are the statistics to show the benefit and cost-effectiveness.

The companies selling these products are often very good at marketing, so why wouldn’t you use it, even if there is no benefit? At least do a trial and leave an untreated tramline for comparison.

For me, formulation is critical. Anything that will dry onto the leaf and sit there for weeks on end, not being absorbed is a waste of money, no matter how cheap it is.

Products which come out of the Micromix, Intracrop and Emerald Research stables are interesting and worth a look, and I use them in certain situations with good effect.

Where crops are under stress from compaction and poor rooting due to nematode or disease attack, applying nutrition through the leaf is a good, efficient option.

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