Crop Updates (9 May 2024): Rhynchosporium in winter barley crops


Crop Updates

Our regular round up of the issues affecting crops around Scotland, summarises how crops are developing and what weather and other issues are affecting them.  The update provides information on the progress with key field work activities as well as news on the pest, weed and disease problems being noted in crops.  The health issues being seen in crops are a key part of the topical update and lets growers and agronomists adjust management practices appropriately.


09 May 2024


General Comments

Spray timings have been hard to stick to with so much field work to be caught up on in limited weather windows. Getting herbicides and fungicides on has been secondary to getting crops in the ground.  Probably of most concern is the level of rhynchosporium being reported in winter barley crops, with varieties like Tardis particularly badly hit.  Winter barley crops are now at booting or even awns peeping.

In winter wheat, yellow rust is largely absent, though reports of sightings in a few late sown Skyscraper crops are being reported this week. Septoria levels are no more than average so at the stage where crops are starting to extend the upper leaves look visually clean. Oilseed rape is flowering and mid flower sprays for sclerotinia are due.



Regional Comments  



Just as things were drying up, Orkney was hit with a deluge of torrential rain on 28 April which set things back to square one.  Although the weather has been kinder since, some of the heavier land is still awaiting the seed drill.  Those of the few fortunate to have free draining land and able to sow earlier are now looking at crops well through the ground.  Grass growth is slow and very few cattle have exited the byres.



Final pockets of spring crop have been sown this week.  Improved temperatures in the period have seen later sown appearing faster through the ground.  Whilst the earliest sown spring crop is looking better.  Some of the limited potato growing in the area has taken place in good conditions.  Grass is also starting to jump with more cattle appearing in fields these past few days.  Straw in the area continues to be at a premium.



Rain over the last week or so has been limited to the odd (sometimes heavy) shower here and there, which has in turn seen a flurry of activity on the ground with large areas of crop being established and drill machines going flat out.  That said and as we speak nearly a quarter through May, there is still a considerable area yet to be planted, possibly 30%.  Those that have been sown have not taken too long to emerge and most look good aside from a few wet and tracked patches here and there.  Winter barley crops have fairy taken off with awns peeping of several crops.  Rynchosporium levels are very high although will have been tackled with T1 spray applications.  Winter wheat crops are not so far ahead and approaching flag leaf stage. 

Winter oilseed rape is in full flower now and most crops looking good.  Beds are being formed for carrots and some being sown, and potato planting is progressing now.  Grass growth is coming along but not at great pace.



Consistent warm and dry weather has finally arrived in the Inverness area and has seen sowing across the area almost finished now.  Recently sown crops are emerging quickly having been sown into warm seedbeds.  There is a large range in the stages of spring barley.  Winter crops are also moving rapidly through the growth stages, winter barley crops now at awns peeping stage and oil seed rape in full flower.  Some mildew can be seen in wheat crops, and they are at growth stage 39.  Grass in the area is also growing and sheds are steadily emptying of stock.



With some slightly more settled weather in last fortnight, sowing of spring crops has been going on where possible, but there is still a lot to do.  One estimate was approximately 50% still to sow at end of last week.  Photos of tractors and drill machines stuck in wet patches have been doing the rounds on WhatsApp & the like which just highlights that soil conditions are only just workable.  A common comment seems to be “It’s still gye raa oot there! “.  Managing a challenging workload and adapting to the conditions however has reinforced the need to be flexible, with some growers using contractors with mounted drills instead of trailed drills or only sowing parts of fields as conditions dictate.  Localised flash floods at the weekend around Alford and Insch has also caused added heartache to some as topsoil has been washed away or gullies formed in newly sown fields.  Winter crops are growing away steadily however in the mild moist conditions, but wet weather diseases such as Septoria and Rhynchosporium are easily found in crops this year, with rates getting increased to help combat the levels of disease.  Oilseed rape crops are now flowering and branching well and approaching the first flower spray timing too.  Leaves on the trees have started to appear this week, along with the arrival of swallows, and grass is growing away now too, enabling cattle to be put outside.  Tatties are just starting to be planted, but making up ridges is still very dependent on soil conditions.



This spring continues to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Spring sowing has continued to be stop-start and while some areas are glad to be reaching the finishing line, some of the later areas with heavy soils are toiling with the ground remaining wet and hard to work.  Despite the lack of sun and warmth, spring crops are starting to briar, with some crops emerging about a week after sowing.  The wet winter and spring has left its mark with many fields showing missed areas, where the drill has had to go around and avoid.  Surprisingly, given the weather over the winter and spring, winter crops are looking well in most cases, although Rhychosporium is present at high levels in several lusher crops of winter barley with flag leaf emergence fast approaching.  Winter wheats also look well with winter oilseed rapes not quite at mid flower.  The last week has also seen potato growers get a start, although the soil looks colder and rawer than ideal.  Livestock farmers are also bemoaning the wet spring, with stock causing poaching and with high straw prices, getting stock onto grass more of a priority than usual.



A drier and slightly warmer period of weather has allowed a lot of progress to be made in the area over the last few weeks.  Localised and at times very heavy showers have caused a few issues.  Winter oilseed rape is around the mid flower point and in general is looking well and has good potential.  There are signs of light leaf spot in crops, however.  Winter barley is at flag leaf stage with some early crops at awns peeping.  There is quite a lot of Rynchosporium about now which will need to be controlled at T2.  Winter wheat is around the GS32 with most crops now having received a T1 spray.  Many fields have been patched with SB and some crops are on the thin side, but plants have compensated with 7-8 tillers.  Spring barley sowing is just about completed in the south of the area and has emerged quickly and evenly.  Potato planting has started.  Conditions on heavier land look wet and sticky and lighter land is still wet at depth.  Grass is growing now, and cattle are being turned out.



A flurry of activity over the last few weeks has seen most people now finished drilling spring cereals although there is a large amount of potato planting outstanding.  Whilst unwelcome for some, the recent rains and warmer weather have meant that spring cereal emergence is now rapid and very even and hopefully these crops can now play catch up.  Winter oilseed rape is in flower with sclerotinia sprays being applied, winter barleys range from stem extension to some which have the occasional awn peeping out and wheats are mostly around GS 31 with the T1 fungicides and growth regulators being applied.



Spring barley drilling is almost complete but there remain a few pockets still to be drilled in upland areas and lower lying fields which are still taking time to dry out.  Emergence of spring crops is more even than we have seen over the last few years and these crops are now growing away rapidly although so are the weeds.  Winter oilseed rape is approaching full flower and ready for petal fall spray.  


Winter barley T1s have been applied, although not always on time as the pressures of late spring drilling meant not everything could be done at once and drilling was prioritised resulting in Rynchosporium developing in some crops. Winter wheat crops are not as far advanced, and most crops are now just approaching the timing of the T1 fungicide.  



A spell of dry weather allowed spring cereal crops to be sown, there are not many fields without an unsown wet area!  Those spring barleys that have been sown for a week or more are emerging and will welcome the rain that fell Sunday 5th/Monday 6th… though, those farmers still with fields to seed and potatoes to plant will be unimpressed with the hold up to field work!  Winter wheats are all at or near growth stage 31 and should have had or are very soon to have their T1 fungicide application.  Septoria levels are building though other diseases are not being seen.  Winter barleys that had delays to their T1’s have evidence of Rhynchosporium and some net-blotch quite high up the plants, early T2’s might be in order.  Those that had T1 applied at the correct time do seem to be cleaner.  A return to dry weather for another week to 10 days would be beneficial to allow last of cereals and potatoes to be sown.



Spring crops have been established with the final break in the weather in the last few weeks across the region.  The carse is still very wet and the west of Stirling still has a few hectares spring barley to sow.  All the lighter ground has had spring crops sown and now they are up and through the ground.  Winter cereals are going through the growth stages okay.  WB crops between booting and awns peeping.  WW have the largest growth stage discrepancy with some far on booting and others just beginning.  The disease reported at the last report continues in the crops and varies in severity across the regions but in general Septoria Tritici in the wheats is at low levels with the disease found lower in the canopy.  There is some Rhyncosporium in barley with crops having a small percentage of the fungi as high as leaf 3.  The weather being a little cooler has meant pollen beetles in the region have been kept low in the OSR crops, with only one or two per plant.  Some crops are as far on as 80% flowered and going through pod development.  Light leaf spot is present in most OSR crops.  Grass is now growing away but many grass parks are looking weedy with spear thistle and broadleaved dockens noted in abundance in the region.



The month of May, so far, has given somewhat of a respite from the rather tortuous conditions through April. Most areas have seen between 10-20mm so far this month, not enough to slow good progress catching up on all the field work needing to be completed.  Spring sown crop emergence, not surprisingly, has been both even and rapid and is one consolation given the lateness of drilling; at least there will be a good plant population to underpin yield potential.  It’s difficult to generalise on the state of autumn sown crops, oilseed rape variability continues to be evident with a greater number of farmers dissatisfied than satisfied with crop progress, due, in the most part, to ongoing crop damage from pigeons.  Forward wheats look well, some will need robust growth regulator programs given the soil moisture available and early planting. Those later wheat crops particularly on rain compacted soils have been slow to reach leaf 3 emerged for T1 spray timing and consequentially septoria has been given time to develop in the crop than might otherwise have been the case.  Winter barleys and winter oats are at GS 32+ with the very earliest barleys approaching awn tipping, indicative of the stress plants have been through this season so far.



There has been only 10mm of rain in the previous two weeks, which has allowed significant progress to be made. Most spring cereals are now in the ground and the earlier crops are emerging evenly.  Awns peeping can be found in winter barley and the flag leaf is starting to emerge in early sown winter wheat.  Further applications of fertiliser are going on winter wheat and oats and sprayers are starting to catch up on winter cereals.  Rhynchosporium levels are rising in some varieties of barley, Septoria is present on lower green leaves in wheat and mildew is active in oats.



The milder, drier weather continues to grace Lanarkshire at the moment.  Most farms have managed to complete the spring crop sowing, with only a few ploughed fields still spotted in the area.  Cows and calves can be spotted in fields across the country, with many grazing milking herds also now out onto grass.  A couple of farms in the district have taken their first cut of silage in the past week to prevent the grass from getting to an unmanageable length.  Many others have managed to roll the fields and get slurry and dung spread now the ground is dry enough to carry machinery.



This last fortnight might not have been perfect, but we’ll take it!  Some much-needed heat and the occasional ray of sunshine has allowed most farmers to get on the ground and get spring crops in.  Spring barley crops have barely emerged from the soil if at all but some good growthy weather will push them on.  Winter crops still lag from where we would hope to see them, still tillering away for the most part.  Again, copper and sulphur deficiencies are being seen but there isn’t enough winter crop in, in the right area for manganese to be an issue this year.  Cows are out and grass growth is looking good but there are concerns that a short window will limit the amount of slurry that can go on before silage begins.


Posted by SAC Consulting on 09/05/2024

Tags: Agriculture, SAC Consulting
Categories: Consulting and Commercial