Stressed-looking spring barley badly needs some rain

Beautiful fresh and green barley growing in the field.
Beautiful fresh and green barley growing in the field.

Only last month we were looking for dry weather and now we are looking for rain. Last week thunder showers went all around us and fell as close as a mile away, but didn’t reach us.

We got some morning mists, but the crops really need more.

The ground is like concrete in places. The spring barley is looking stressed and it has to effect the yield, as it is such a short growing season this year. In a normal year it would be about 12 weeks but this year it could be as short as eight weeks.

We also did a lot more night spraying, as the hot temperatures during the day could stress the plants even further. We are very conscious that this also helps to protect pollinators.

Even spraying at night didn’t stop some crops getting somewhat scorched and they now have yellow tips on them.

Winter wheat

Winter wheat has received its T2 and got Liberex at 1.7l per ha, Bravo at 1l per ha and Modem at 0.37l per ha. Because we went with proline in the T1 we then changed fungicide in T2 to make the chemistry work better.

Modem was specifically used to protect against yellow rust which seems to be around again this year.

The strobe will hopefully keep it greener for slightly longer, which in theory will help extend the grain fill. The Lumos variety had already started to boot, so this will help keep it protected till head spray.

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All the winter wheat seems quite short. We were expecting this burst of soft growth when it got going, but between the frost, the growth regulator, followed by a drought, it never really took off.

With the price of straw looking good, we will be at a disadvantage to have short straw.

Winter Barley

It has received its head spray of Velogy Era at 0.8l per ha, Bravo at 1l per ha and magnesium. Because of the stress on the plants, we are using trace elements and magnesium more than we would on a normal year.

On the winter barley we went with a foliar feed of Magnitech and Epsom salts, to help keep it green and help it photosynthesis.

Winter oil seed rape

When the plant was mid flowering, it got Filan at 0.25l per ha and Amistar at 0.75l per ha. Sclerotinia, phoma and light leaf spot are the diseases that oil seed rape is vulnerable to.

When the petals are falling, they are harmless. If they land on the leaves and joints of the plant, they can create problems with fungal diseases and the plant needs to be sprayed to be protected.

The crop itself has now finished flowering and looks good, with plenty of pods.

Spring Barley

This is looking stressed and badly needs rain. It has received CeCeCe at 0.5l per ha and trace elements. The growth regulator is to try and help get the plant tillering, but I think that if it doesn’t get more rain, it might abort the tillers and have fewer plants per square meter.

This could have a very serious effect on yield, but time will tell. A couple of showers of rain will change everything, but it may end up too little too late.

We added a sea weed product to our trace elements to help the plant with the stress. Again only time will tell if that was a good idea. Even if it gets going now, I think the straw will be very short on this too.

Spring oil seed rape

This crop is already starting at a loss, as we had to re-sow 12 acres of failed winter oil seed rape.

One of the reasons I believe it didn’t germinate well, is compaction and to overcome this we ploughed the field and tilled it, before direct drilling it with the Claydon.

I know that sounds like a contradiction, but we couldn’t take the chance of direct drilling it without tackling the compaction problem.

However, with the very dry weather that followed the very wet weather, we were then worried had we dried it out too much. It germinated really well, but again it will have a very short growing season to try and catch up.

I have heard of spring crops in the UK growing so fast when the warm weather came, that the stem split. Hopefully that won’t happen here.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter P&H Harris @kildarefarmer.

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