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Teagasc Tillage Update - 9 April

09 April 2020
Type Media Article

TILLAGE: Get some tips on winter cereals; winter barley nitrogen and disease control advice; growth regulators and diseases; nitrogen for malting barley. Watch a video on winter barley disease control and listen to a podcast on nitrogen strategies rates.

Huge progress has been made in planting crops with almost all spring cereal crops planted to date, or will be by the end of this week.  Growers are now turning their attention to planting potatoes, maize and beet.  Ground conditions continue to be excellent, all be it with some growers now hoping for some rainfall to help fertiliser uptake and to get the best from residual herbicides.

The area sown of spring cereals has increased substantially this spring, in response to the decreased area of winter cereals.  Other crops such as spring beans are reported to have increased (estimated at +10-15%) but there are reports farmers are planning to plant less area of beet and maize in responding to the slow movement of forages this spring.

Winter Cereals: This week’s warm weather has kicked all plants into full growth mode.  In general crops were planted later than normal with crops a little behind normal but almost all barley, oats and most wheat are now at the stem extension stage (Growth Stage 30).  The first application of nitrogen has been applied to all crops and many growers have applied the main nitrogen split in the past week.  In this week’s Tillage Edge Podcast Michael Hennessy and Dr. Richie Hackett discuss the application strategies for nitrogen on the major winter cereals.   Although some of the autumn planted crops were not ideal coming into spring Richie recommends growers do not significantly change the nitrogen strategy this year and any adjustments necessary can be made at the third split in wheat and barley.  Listen to the full podcast here.  

Disease levels in winter crops are quite low to date helped by the cool dry weather over the past few weeks. Growers should watch out for yellow rust appearing in winter wheat varieties like Bennington, Torp and JB Diego in particular and where the disease is spreading immediate attention with a fungicide containing a strong triazole (Epoxiconazole) is advised.  As expected a number of winter barley varieties have some disease e.g. Cassia, Tower, Pixel but generally disease levels are low.  A two spray fungicide programme will be used on the majority of winter barley this year reacting to the lower disease and later planting. Growers should target the first fungicide application at GS 30-31. 

In the below video, Dr. Stephen Kildea discusses winter barley strategies.

Spring cereals:  The earliest planted crops are beginning to emerge and these should power ahead given the current weather and excellent seedbeds.  Top dressing crops with either nitrogen or a compound should be the first operation on these crops.  Where Phosphate (P) and potash (K) wasn’t applied to the seedbed then prioritise this operation to ensure the crop has sufficient nutrients, especially where the P&K soil indexes are low.  See below the recommended level of P and K for a 7.5 t/ha spring barley crop and the suggested product rates to achieve these levels.

Soil indexP
Product usedRate
1 49 115 10-10-20 480
2 39 100 12-8-20 480
3 29 85 13-6-20 480
4 0   - -

-Adjust P by 3.8kg/t, K by 11.4kg/t for lower or higher grain yields
-Additional K is required at Index 1 & 2.  Apply 50% K (MOP) once every 5 years (for soil K build-up)

Malting barley: Careful attention should be given to the overall level of nitrogen to malting barley.  Firstly growers should review rates in the past to individual fields and adjust nitrogen levels to these crops, i.e. where a field generally returns higher grain protein then consider reducing the overall nitrogen level to that field this year.  Secondly, consider the area devoted to distilling (low protein) or brewing (moderate to low protein) contracts and adjust the overall nitrogen levels to reflect the market needs.  In nitrogen index 1 situations, target between 110-130 kg N/ha for distilling barley and 130-150 kg N/ha for brewing barely.  Ideally apply all the nitrogen to crops before GS30-31 to minimise final protein levels in grain.